Mass. Gets Rid of Employer Health Care Penalty—Sort Of

July 19, 2013 ( – Massachusetts’ 2014 budget makes changes to the Fair Share Contribution Program under the state’s universal health care law.

The program was established under the Commonwealth’s 2006 health care reform law and mandates that employers with 11 or more full-time equivalent employees (FTE) make a “fair and reasonable” contribution toward the health care costs of its full-time workers, or pay a $295 per FTE assessment. The FY14 budget replaces the Fair Share Contribution Program, as well as the Medical Security Program, with a single Employer Medical Assistance Contribution to provide $95 million in FY14, and more than $130 million in subsequent years, to maintain affordable coverage for low-income residents through the state’s Health Connector.

In January, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick proposed changes to the state’s universal health care law in anticipation of provisions of the federal health reform law (see “Mass. Governor Proposes Changes to State Health Law”). Patrick noted that the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) has a similar policy for employers with more than 50 employees, effective in 2014, that could result in double-penalties if the two policies were to coexist. 

According to the Governor’s website, “The budget streamlines health insurance programs and the state’s mechanisms to promote employer responsibility, benefiting employers, consumers and providers.”