Tester bill empowers small businesses to reimburse employees’ health care costs

Senator follows through on pledge to improve upon Affordable Care Act

(U.S. Senate) – Senator Jon Tester is looking to give small businesses the power to create Health Reimbursement Accounts (HRAs) to help their employees pay for health care costs.

Standalone HRAs are not currently permitted because they do not meet the Affordable Care Act’s standards for employer-sponsored health insurance plans.

Under current law, businesses would be penalized for trying to provide an HRA if they don’t also offer health insurance, even if the business has fewer than 50 employees and is not required to provide insurance otherwise. More than 95 percent of Montana businesses have fewer than 50 employees.

To fix this, Tester is sponsoring the bipartisan Small Business Healthcare Relief Act which will improve upon the Affordable Care Act by allowing small businesses to provide HRAs for their employees.

“As we work to improve upon the Affordable Care Act, we must reduce the burden on small businesses that want to provide benefits to their employees,” Tester said. “This bipartisan bill will help employers support their employees and compete for the best talent.”

The measure is supported by the National Association of Home Builders, and the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Tester has long called on Congress to improve upon the ACA, instead of returning to the old system where many Montanans could not afford to get sick. Earlier this year, the Senator’s PACE Act became law, giving states greater power to oversee small group health insurance markets.

The Senator also recently introduced the Healthy MOM Act to create a special enrollment period for pregnant women so they can change or purchase health insurance on the Marketplace throughout the year.

Tester’s Small Business Healthcare Relief Act is available online HERE.