HELP Committee Details Employer Mandate in Health Reform

July 2, 2009 ( - Employers would have to offer health insurance coverage to employees or be assessed a penalty under a revamped health care reform bill put together by Democratic leaders of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.

Under the latest proposal, according to Business Insurance, employers would be required to pay 60% of employee health insurance premiums. Those that do not would have to pay an annual assessment of $750 for each full-time employee not covered and $375 for each part-time employee not covered, the news report said.

The mandate would not apply to employers with 25 or fewer employees.

The Committee’s proposed bill, by panel chairman Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) and Senator Chris Dodd (D-Connecticut), included a requirement for individuals and businesses to obtain insurance, but a Senate aide said some details of the requirement still needed to be worked out (see Senate Democrats Make Health Reform Proposal ).

The other Senate panel with jurisdiction over health care legislation – the Finance Committee – has yet to produce a bill (see “Change” May Include Employer-sponsored Programs ).

Business Insurance noted that a reform bill backed by the chairmen of the House Education and Labor, Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means Committees would require employers to offer coverage or pay an assessment equal to 8% of pay for each employee not enrolled in a health care plan. “Small firms,” which the measure does not define, would be excluded.