National Healthcare Bill Update From OAA

Opticians Association of America

The Opticians Association of America latest newsletter had these helpful insights as to National Healthcare Bill Reform.

Tax Credit: When and the Run Down…

Small Businesses qualify for a tax credit if they have 25 or fewer employees with an average wage $50,000 or less…it’s a sliding scale.

They don’t qualify for the tax credit if they have more than 25 employees. Also, any employee who earns more than $80,000/year will be excluded from your credit.

Both small for-profit businesses and small not-for-profit organizations are eligible.

Here’s an Example:

Example 1: Main Street Optical

Optical Shop with 10 Employees

Wages: $250,000 total, or $25,000 per worker

Employee Health Care Costs: $70,000

2010 Tax Credit: $24,500 (35% credit)

2014 Tax Credit: $35,000 (50% credit)

Confused yet? Well here is a link to a website that has a tax credit calculator for small business owners, simply put in the number of employees, annual wages for all employees and annual employer premium contribution

No-Coverage Penalties….

The bill requires small-business employers with more than 50 full-time employees (or 100 part time) to offer health insurance coverage to all full-time employees. Under the bill, you’re considered a full-time employee if you work 30 hours per week, on average. Small businesses must offer full-time employees health-care coverage by 2014 or pay a $2,000 penalty per employee.

NOTE: Businesses with less than 50 employees do not incur non-coverage penalties. Meaning the majority of independent optical shops will not be affected.

SHOP Program….

Effective: Jan. 1, 2014 – The law creates the state-based American Health Benefit Exchanges and Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) exchanges, which are marketplaces where individuals and small businesses with up to 100 employees can purchase coverage. The law creates four benefit categories of plans plus a separate catastrophic plan. Health insurance plans participating in the exchange must meet certain requirements in marketing, customer service, provider networks and transparency. States have option to create a basic health plan for uninsured individuals with incomes between 133 and 200 percent of the federal poverty level. (The federal poverty level for individuals in 2009 is $10,830, and for a family of three is $18,310.) Businesses with more than 100 employees can begin purchasing coverage in the SHOP exchange in 2017.

NOTE: the shop exchanges are state specific and will have some variance state to state.

FROM THE EDITOR: The 2700 page bill is massive, complicated and intentionally vague at times, and until regulatory interpretations and court challenges have been established the many things we thought we knew about this bill may change…I will try to keep up to date on any major occurrences that could affect opticians….questions or comments welcome.

Kristopher R. Pickford

OAA Legislative Consultant

Helpful Tips on Pursuing Legislation

1) Legislation is the art of the compromise. Learn the difference between a good fight and a lost cause, in order to avoid wasting valuable political capital.

2) Learn who your key legislators and sponsors are. Learn the legislative cycles and calendars – to use a sports metaphor: poor time management can cause the clock to run out on you. This is a factor even with good time management.

3) Learn the legislative process from beginning to end. Determine if possible, what committees your bill (legislation) will go through. Political support is always desirable to a legislator however; financial support should be approached with deliberation.

4) Support of a bill in the form of letters, phone calls, and emails is absolutely critical for a bill’s chance to be passed. Typically, 20 or more calls on a bill is seismic shift on the legislative landscape. If you don’t want to work for your bill, what message does that send to your sponsoring legislator?

5) Use professional help in the form of a dedicated lobbyist and/or regulatory attorney. Passing legislation is a hardball affair. It cannot be approached with the attitude of conducting a Saturday morning garage sale.

6) Make every effort to determine who the opposition is and what they are capable of doing to derail your bill. In other words, you need to know who has a dog in the fight!

Aspire MidPage June 19