Merkley Announces Health Care Tax Credits Will Be Available to Oregon Small Businesses Despite Cover Oregon Woes
WASHINGTON – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley announced today that small business tax credits will be available to Oregon businesses under the health care law despite problems with Cover Oregon.
Merkley has been fighting to ensure that small businesses would be able to access tax credits even in states where the small business health insurance exchanges are not yet available online. After several conversations with senior White House officials, he wrote earlier this week to the head of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) pressing on the issue. Today, CMS confirmed that they will make this option available to small businesses.
“Small businesses and their employees should not lose access to quality health insurance because of a broken website,” said Merkley. “I pushed to make this right because helping small business owners to provide affordable health insurance is a win-win.”
Since 2010, small businesses have been able to receive tax credits under the health care law to help with the cost of offering coverage to employees. However, since the beginning of 2014, tax credits are only available to small businesses that get health insurance through a federal or state SHOP (Small Business Health Options Program) exchange. Oregon does not have a functioning SHOP exchange yet due to the technical difficulties at Cover Oregon.
With the change announced today, qualifying Oregon small businesses will be able to claim a tax credit of up to 50% of the cost of qualified health plans purchased outside the exchange. Qualified health plans are identical to those offered for individuals and families within the exchange.