WASHINGTON, DC – The National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE), the nation’s leading advocate and resource for the self-employed and micro-business community, today applauded the introduction of the Small Business Healthcare Relief Act of 2014, which would allow for standalone health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) for small employers (49 or less employees).

Katie Vlietstra, Vice President for Government Relations and Public Affairs, said the bill is a “big win for the small business community, but today’s introduction is only the first step in a long process before it becomes law.”

“Health Reimbursement Accounts have historically been a very powerful and effective tool for the small business community. HRA’s allows small business owners to do the right thing by helping provide financial assistance to their employees for qualified health care expenses, “said Vlietstra.

“In a gross overreach, the Departments of Treasury, Health and Human Services, and Labor, dealt a devastating blow to the use of HRAs by placing unrealistic restrictions on their use by small employers. Thousands of small businesses nationwide, including self-employed and micro-businesses, should be able to use HRAs without limitation.

“HRAs provide a tool for small employers to provide financial support to their employees for health care expenses and I applaud both Representatives Charles Boustany (R-LA) and Mike Thompson (D-CA) for the introduction of this measure today which addresses this extremely important, small business issue.”

For over a decade, HRAs have been a key tool for small employers to provide their employees with minimal financial assistance for qualified health care expenses. With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the 2013 decision by the Departments of Treasury, Health and Human Services, and Labor to tie key lifetime or annual limits and coverage of preventive health services to small employers offering an HRA was a gross infringement on the small business community. The change resulted in a particularly negative impact on small employers with 49 or less employees that are under no legal obligation to provide a qualified healthcare plan for their employees under the employer mandate of the ACA.

In late November, Vlietstra penned an op-ed for Roll Call outlining many areas where Congress can find common ground when it comes to the small business community, including HRA reform.

The National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) is the nation's leading resource for the self-employed and micro-businesses, bringing a broad range of benefits to help entrepreneurs succeed and to drive the continued growth of this vital segment of the American economy. The NASE Small Business Locator helps identify and connect our nation’s smallest businesses. In addition, NASE’s new health care portal helps small business owners navigate the nation’s health care marketplace. The NASE is a 501(c) (6) nonprofit organization and provides big-business advantages to hundreds of thousands of micro-businesses across the United States. For more information, visit the association's website at NASE.org

Source: National Association for the Self-Employed

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