House To Debate Major Health Care Initiative

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(Host) The House is set to begin its debate this morning on the major health care initiative of the session.

Governor Peter Shumlin says he hopes passage of the legislation will encourage small businesses to drop coverage for their employees, because those employees will be eligible for several hundred million dollars in new federal subsidies.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) The legislation creates a health care marketplace exchange where all individuals and all businesses with fewer than 50 employees will be required to purchase policies beginning in January of 2014.

Under the new federal health care law, individuals who earn less than $40,000 a year and households with less than $92,000 of income will be eligible for subsidies.

Shumlin is encouraging small businesses to drop their employee coverage and let these people enter the Exchange as individuals to take advantage of the subsidies. The governor says it’s time to end employer sponsored health care.

(Shumlin) "It stifles job growth, it stifles investment, it stifles raises given to employees, it is killing business the rising cost of health care. This exchange will allow employers to get out of the healthcare business and out of their employees’ to get federal subsidies by buying directly in the Exchange."

(Kinzel) House members are likely to consider an amendment that would make participation in the Exchange voluntary for all businesses with fewer than 100 employees. Shumlin says he opposes this plan.

For VPR News, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

You can hear the debate when the House is in session on our Legislative Stream.

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