ASTA Acts on Health Care Plan

Reflecting mounting concern with the impact of the Obama Administration's controversial health care plan now being drafted, ASTA’s president and chairman Chris Russo sent a letter to Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) and chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance now drafting the bill, urging the legislation to include a 100-employee definition of small business in the final bill.

Russo also urged Baucus to take into account the needs of the small business travel agency community in the Chairman’s Mark (final) version of the legislation now being considered.

“According to published reports, the Finance Committee may require businesses employing more than 50 full-time employees to provide health coverage, or pay a fee for each employee receiving a health-insurance tax credit,”  Russo wrote in his letter. “Various bills currently in circulation offer a range of definitions of 'small business' for purposes of determining eligibility for certain exemptions, tax credits and other federal assistance. Some proposals make these benefits available only to businesses employing 50 people or fewer; others limit the maximum size to only 25 employees.

“While mindful of the need to contain costs, it is nevertheless our view that small businesses employing 100 persons or fewer ought to be exempt from these requirements, or at least be eligible for federal assistance," Russo continued in the letter. "A variety of federal agencies, including the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Small Business Administration, and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, have used a 100-employee standard in an array of regulatory and statistical contexts."

“To exclude small businesses from eligibility for federal assistance in complying with insurance mandates and other new health care-related regulatory requirements simply because they narrowly exceed a 25- or even a 50-employee standard would force many small travel agencies to assume costs which they simply cannot bear," Russo said. "Margins in the retail travel distribution industry are already narrow, and the continuing economic downturn has forced many travel agency customers to reduce or eliminate planned travel expenditures. In light of these realities, we respectfully request that you include a 100-employee definition of small businesses in your forthcoming Chairman’s Mark of health care reform legislation.  Thank you for your consideration, and thank you for your continued leadership in bringing needed reforms to America’s health care system.”