Colorado business leaders, farmers urge delay of health insurance tax
February 21, 2019
CENTENNIAL, Colo. — Colorado small business leaders met recently at the offices of the Colorado Farm Bureau in Centennial to discuss the impact of the 2020 health insurance tax, or HIT, on small businesses, their employees, farmers, seniors on Medicare and middle-income families. Small businesses leaders expressed concerns about the impact of the HIT on Colorado small businesses, their employees and the self-employed if the tax is not delayed immediately.
"This tax has the potential to have devastating effects on the farming industry," said Colorado Farm Bureau state President Don Shawcroft. "With the HIT tax expected to raise premiums by 2.2 percent in 2020 alone, these small farmers may be forced to delay hiring, offset much needed repairs, improvements and investments in their farming businesses or see a loss of productivity as they struggle to afford the high-quality health care coverage that helps them attract and retain talented workers."
The HIT is a federal sales tax on health insurance plans purchased by small business owners, the self-employed, and workers who receive their health care coverage through an employer. Without action by Congress immediately to delay the tax for 2020, Colorado small business owners and seniors on Medicare will be hit with higher health insurance premiums as they renew their coverage next year.
U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado recently introduced the "Healthcare Tax Relief Act," a bi-partisan bill in the U.S. Senate that would delay implementation of the HIT tax for 2020 and 2021. The effort to prevent a tax hike in the form of the HIT has been a top priority for small businesses and the employer community, from the hospitality industry to the agricultural sector.
"Congress needs to act quickly and as early as possible this year to delay the Health Insurance Tax from going into effect in 2020," said small business owner Andrew Graham. As president and CEO of the Denver medical billing firm Clinic Service Corp., Graham said he simply can't afford to keep up with health insurance increases at a similar contribution rate each year. "While providing health benefits does help us maintain and support our talent base, providing these benefits has become part of the core business. This isn't what we set out to do when we started a business," he said.
If Congress does not suspend this tax in 2020, Colorado small business owners and seniors on Medicare will be hit with higher health insurance premiums totaling $205 million as they renew their coverage next year.
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Colorado is home to more than 611,495 small businesses, which employ more than 1.1 Colorado workers. A study by Oliver Wyman shows that Colorado families in the small employer market could be faced with $422 on average in higher premiums in 2020 as a result of the HIT. Absent Congressional action to delay the HIT, this tax is estimated to disproportionately impact 142 million Americans, particularly those earning an income between $10,000 and $50,000. ❖