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View From the Hill: HIT repeal

By Grace Boatright, National Grange Legislative Director (View From The Hill Blog 8/14/12)

  AUGUST 15, 2012 --

For those of us who haven't fled to Nantucket or Martha's Vineyard, August recess is an opportunity to catch up on some business that might otherwise get overshadowed. Today, that business was addressing the new Health Insurance Tax, also known as the HIT, that will be imposed on health insurance companies come 2014. As common sense would indicate, higher costs for businesses results in higher costs for consumers. This instance is no different, so today I wrote up a letter to send to the Hill regarding the Grange's opposition to the HIT. I'll copy and paste the letter here. Please let me know what you think, if you agree, disagree, etc.

Dear Senator:

On behalf of the National Grange, the nation's oldest rural advocacy group, representing over 160,000 members in 2,100 communities across 40 states, I write today with respect to the new Health Insurance Tax, known from here as the HIT, that is soon to be imposed on the net premiums of health insurance companies. It is our belief that the additional costs associated with this tax will be passed onto consumers who purchase their health insurance through the fully insured market. As many small businesses are still struggling in this down economy, we feel a rise in health insurance costs will be counterproductive to our nation’s goal of putting Americans back to work and getting our country on the road to economic success.

The “health insurance fee,” as it is called under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), is little more than a tax and was devised as a means of offsetting the cost of the legislation. Over the first five years, beginning in 2014, the HIT is expected to raise $87 billion. It has been estimated that over 2 million small businesses will see a rise in their health care costs due to revenues raised by the HIT. In fact, a recent study conducted by the Congressional Budget Office confirms that the HIT “would be largely passed through to consumers in the form of higher premiums for private coverage.”

The majority of America’s farmers and ranchers are small business owners who purchase their health care in the fully insured market because they do not have enough employees to be self-insured. Fully insured plans are the only plans on which the HIT is to be levied, making it increasingly difficult for the 87% of small business owners who purchase these plans to continue insuring themselves and their employees. The ongoing drought has already left many of America’s farmers and ranchers in financial strain and a rise in health insurance expenses will only increase this burden.

The National Grange believes the ultimate goal of health insurance reform should be to reduce costs while still providing consumers with the care they require. We urge lawmakers to consider H.R. 1370 and S.1880, both of which work to repeal the new Health Insurance Tax. In addition, if the National Grange could be of assistance on this matter, please do not hesitate to contact Grace Boatright, our Legislative Director, at 202-628-3507 ex. 114 or gboatright@nationalgrange.org. Thank you for the opportunity to make comment on this important issue.

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