WASHINGTON - The Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council (SBE Council) reports that various legislative proposals and hearings on Capitol Hill are focusing on the need to take "interim steps" on health care reform until a more comprehensive overhaul is undertaken.

A bipartisan group of 10 senators offered common ground issues for President Bush to consider in addressing health care reform. In a letter to the president, the senators wrote that they would like to work with the Bush administration in key areas such as: modernizing federal tax rules; providing more incentives and opportunities for state-based reforms; promoting wellness through prevention; improving access to information on price and quality of health services; and encouraging more cost-effective chronic and end-of-life care.

Also, Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) held a hearing on health care reform. In a statement about the hearing, Kerry said the debate had "moved beyond" Association Health Plans (AHPs). However, one of the witnesses recognized the need for a larger pooling mechanism for small firms.

At the hearing, Kerry advocated for universal health care coverage and other proposals to immediately help small businesses - including "federal reinsurance for high cost cases, responsibly expanding coverage pools, and a 50 percent tax credit for small firms that provide coverage to their low- and moderate-income employees." Kerry also touted S. 99, the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit Act, a bill he introduced "to provide an interim step to help small employers while comprehensive legislation is developed."

Publication date:02/26/2007