Joyce lauds recent passage of small business health insurance cost relief bill

Senator Brian A. Joyce is pleased to announce that Governor Deval Patrick last week signed into law legislation that will reduce small business health insurance costs and promote job retention and job creation. The bill reduces premium fluctuations in the market and requires insurers to offer affordable health plans.
“As I travel through the district, the number one thing people are saying is that they want to work, and they want government to help create and retain jobs in Massachusetts,” said Senator Brian A. Joyce. “This bill is a step in the right direction to fight the crippling health insurance costs that burden our small businesses.” The final bill includes a Joyce amendment that authorizes small businesses to group together and purchase health care plans at lower prices.
Small businesses are the backbone of the Commonwealth’s economy, and they have been paralyzed under the crushing cost of health care. According to the Department of Commerce, small business account for about 40 percent of gross national product, but have created more than 60 percent of total net new jobs in the past decade.
The bill, supported by the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, delivers an estimated premium relief of at least 10 percent that small businesses can save and reinvest in their operations and workforce. Prior to passage of this legislation, many of the small business owners were bracing for 20 percent, 30 percent or even greater increases in their premiums.
The bill requires enhanced review and transparency of insurer rates, including:
· Requiring an annual open enrollment to prevent “jumpers and dumpers” from driving up costs in the market;
· Establishing a new incentive for small businesses to adopt employee wellness programs;
· Standardizing and enhancing the transparency of information related to provider costs, quality, and efficiency.
This information will be used in the future to assist in the design of affordable health care insurance products, and will provide a powerful tool for consumers to compare providers based on cost and quality.
The bill, designed to bring immediate results, is not a permanent solution to rising healthcare costs. The Senate plans to continue work on long-term payment reform and cost-control measures at the start of the next legislative session.