Must we always take one step back for every step forward? Pennsylvania lawmakers recently passed several pieces of legislation that will help contain health-care costs and expand coverage to workers of small businesses and their dependents.
Unfortunately, as part of his 2009-10 General Fund budget proposal, Gov. Ed Rendell has called for a 2 percent tax on most health insurance plans issued to individuals, small employers and larger employers who don't self-insure in Pennsylvania.
At a time when the nation's focus is on expanding coverage to the uninsured, it doesn't make sense to make health insurance more expensive. The main reason people become uninsured is because of unaffordable premiums. The number of uninsured in Pennsylvania - now 1.2 million - is growing, and many of them are workers at small businesses.
The 2 percent premium tax, while directed at the insurance issuer, will no doubt be passed onto individuals and small businesses, those struggling to afford health insurance, and who are already paying premiums that are an average of 18 percent higher than premiums paid by big business. Over the past several years our members have seen premiums increase by 30 percent, 50 percent and even 80 percent. The governor's reasoning must be "Oh, it's just another 2 percent, a drop in the bucket for you business people."
At a time of severe economic crisis, it makes no sense to enact a tax that would directly increase the cost of health insurance in Pennsylvania.
We urge the governor to reconsider this proposal.
Government Relations Manager, SMC Business Councils