Senate Proposed Employer Assessment, A Step Forward:

Yesterday, the Senate Ways & Means Committee released its FY18 budget proposal. Included in this proposal was authorization for the administration to pursue either the employer health care assessment or an increase in the existing employer medical assistance contribution (EMAC), a fund to subsidize health care to low-income residents of the Commonwealth.

The proposal put forward by the Senate Ways & Means Committee is a positive step forward and will allow continued opportunities for dialogue on this important issue. MNN has been meeting with leaders in the administration and legislature on this complicated issue and will continue to remain engaged as conversations around these two proposals go forward.

As for the two options included in the Senate Ways & Means budget, the administration would have until August 1st to choose between the employer assessment or an increase to EMAC. If the administration went with the employer assessment, it would apply to employers with 25 or more employees that don’t offer adequate health plans and the administration would have the option to exclude certain classes of employers including nonprofits. The administration would need to consider many factors before setting the amount of the assessment including: (1) the number of employees; (2) whether employees are part-time or full-time; (3) whether employees have access to health insurance through a parent, spouse, veteran’s or Medicare; and (4) how much the employer contributes towards the employer-sponsored health care plan. If the administration instead went with the EMAC proposal, it could raise the current $51 per employee EMAC, an existing assessment that applies to employers with six or more employees.

Similar to the final House budget, the Senate proposal lowered the revenue target of the assessment ($180 million as opposed to the $300 million proposed by the administration). The Senate proposal also delays implementation to January 2018 and includes language sunsetting either proposal two years after the effective date.