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PA ABC Will Benefit Commonwealth's Small Businesses, DCED Secretary Says

PITTSBURGH, May 23 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The PA Access to Basic Care plan could help thousands of small businesses afford health insurance for their employees, Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary Dennis Yablonsky said at a small business awards luncheon in Pittsburgh today.

"The vast majority of Pennsylvania's uninsured adults have full-time jobs and many are employed by small businesses that struggle to make a profit," said Yablonsky. "More and more, these small businesses have to choose between continuing to pay hefty insurance premiums and letting their employees go without insurance."

PA ABC will make affordable basic health insurance available through the private insurance market to eligible small businesses that don't offer health insurance to their employees, Yablonsky told attendees of the 32nd annual small business awards luncheon, sponsored by the Western Small Business Network, a diverse group of southwestern Pennsylvania chambers of commerce, and community and economic development organizations.

In addition to the coverage for uninsured small businesses, PA ABC, which has passed the state House, would provide $42 million in 'Care Grants' to help small businesses that already provide health care for their employees to help pay up to 25 percent of the cost of health coverage, Yablonsky said.

Small business employers would be eligible to join ABC if they have 50 or fewer employees with an average wage of $31,200. Employers will pay approximately $150 per employee per month toward the premium. Small business employees with family incomes up to 200 percent of federal poverty level will pay between $0 to $50 per month as their contribution for this health coverage. Those with family incomes greater than 200 percent will pay $150 for their coverage.

More and more employers are dropping health benefits and premium costs skyrocket, Yablonsky said. According to the Economic Policy Institute, between 2000 and 2006, almost a half million Pennsylvanians lost employer-based health insurance -- second only to California.

"And it isn't only the uninsured who pay a price," Yablonsky said. "About 6.5 percent of insurance premiums go to cover the cost of health care for the uninsured. Every Pennsylvanian pays the cost of having an inadequate health care system."

CONTACT: Steve Weitzman

(717) 783-1132

SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Community & EconomicDevelopment
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