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A group of Senators from both parties introduced legislation yesterday to help small businesses and those who work for them obtain health insurance. Through the Small Business Health Options Program (dubbed "SHOP"), the legislation would let small businesses join together to negotiate health plans and provide tax incentives for those that pay a portion of employee coverage.
As discussed in this blog post, some claim health care costs to be the number one issue facing small businesses. Though no consensus has been reached as to employers' role in remedying the lack of affordable health care in America, the undeniable reality is that fewer and fewer small businesses are able to offer their employees health benefits. The Senate bill introduced yesterday seeks to change that.
Introduced by Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL), Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), and Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), SHOP would boost health coverage for small businesses through three main mechanisms:
Time will tell whether the SHOP legislation or any other program will change the landscape of insurance offerings for small businesses. In the meantime, here is some information about choosing a health plan, and about rules and regulations that apply once a business does offer a health plan.