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6/20/2017 House OKs Ruggiero bill to increase health care options for small businesses
STATE HOUSE – The House has approved legislation sponsored by Rep. Deborah Ruggiero authorizing the state to seek a federal waiver under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to allow sole proprietors and the self-employed to purchase their health insurance in the small group market instead of the individual market, as they were allowed before the ACA took effect.

The bill (2017-H 6082), approved unanimously by the House June 14, is aimed at expanding options and providing savings for small business owners in Rhode Island.

It authorizes the Department of Administration to pursue a State Innovation Waiver under Section 1332 of the Affordable Care Act for a Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP). If the waiver is granted, it will allow self-employed, sole proprietors and S corps without an employee taking coverage to purchase small group insurance through HealthSource RI and not be forced to the individual market, which is typically more expensive. 

“Health insurance is one of the biggest costs for small business and one in four businesses is a sole proprietor or an S corp. This bill enables CPAs, financial planners, lawyers, physician groups and others who are sole proproprietors or S corps to get coverage in the small group insurance market and not be forced to the individual market, which is more costly,” said Representative Ruggiero (D-Dist. 74, Jamestown, Middletown). “The feds anticipated that some states would want to make a change and created the Section 1332 waiver, so let’s use it to help small business in this state.  And if the small business adds another employee—which is what we want business to do—create jobs—they just add the person to the small group health insurance plan and it’s not an administrative nightmare.”

Putting the sole proprietors into the small group market means not only that they have more options for plans and that their health care costs may be less and qualify them for additional tax relief, but it would also enable them to get the assistance of an insurance broker in choosing plans, since brokers don’t get paid in the individual market. 

The bill, which now goes to the Senate, is cosponsored by Rep. Robert D. Phillips (D-Dist. 51, Woonsocket, Cumberland), Rep. Patricia A. Serpa (D-Dist. 27, West Warwick, Coventry, Warwick), Rep. Julie A. Casimiro (D-Dist. 31, North Kingstown, Exeter) and Rep. Gregory J. Costantino (D-Dist. 44, Lincoln, Johnston, Smithfield).

For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-1923