Within the controversial Affordable Care Act (ACA) is a provision tucked away that would have promised more rate hikes for small businesses.

Traditionally, the decision to expand the definition of a small group market has been left to the states. Until passage of the ACA, the small group market has been defined as 50 or fewer employees, but that changed to include business with up to 99 employees. The 99-employee threshold is scheduled to begin this January.

Expanding the small group market to include up to 99 employees would reduce choice for employers in this segment. While national insurers are in virtually every state’s large group market, they are only in a portion of the small group markets — which have numerous entry administrative requirements. As a result, many firms with 51-99 employees will find they cannot even keep the insurer they currently have once they are required to buy coverage in the small group market.

Providing health insurance is an expensive and difficult endeavor for any employer, but 90% of groups with between 50-99 individuals currently do so. ASA and others in the 50-100 coalition had been urging the Department of Health and Human Services to delay by two years this provision and to not place the coverage of this segment at risk by reducing choice, imposing changes to benefit design, and subjecting premiums to potentially significant increases.

Since HHS obviously chose not to act, as they have in many other instances, Congress acted on our behalf. Thanks to members of ASA and members of WIT and their efforts on Capitol Hill this fall, Congress heard us and acted. The president signed to repeal into law in October, returning the authority back
 to the states.


Is the U.S. back in the oil export business?

Not since 1975 has America been an exporter of oil. Fast forward 40 years and the House has passed legislation repealing this out-of-date ban.

Studies have shown that the additional production of crude oil for export will create more than 400,000 new supply-chain jobs throughout the U.S. by 2018. Many of these jobs will be in the skilled trades, such as factory workers, equipment operators, distributors and construction workers. IHS Economics reports that for every one job created by crude oil production there are three more created in supply-chain companies.

ASA, along with the Energy Equipment and Infrastructure Alliance, were instrumental in getting the House to act. The time has come for the Senate to do the same.