The Small Employer Incentive Bill, designed to make health insurance available to thousands of employed Kansans who have no access to health insurance, has been passed by the Kansas Senate and now awaits Gov. Mike Hayden's signature.
The bill, which was developed over the last two years by the Commission on Access to Services for the Medically Indigent, would offer tax incentives for companies with 25 or fewer employees to provide health care insurance benefits through group plans. The bill had overwhelming support in the House and passed the Senate, 38-0.
Input on the bill over the last two years came from many local health departments and hospitals that increasingly are feeling the effect of people who seek primary as well as acute health care and have no health insurance, said Rep. Jessie Branson, D-Lawrence, vice chair of the commission.
During testimony before insurance committees of both the House and Senate, Mrs. Branson said that thousands of Kansans lack health care insurance. And she said many of these people are employed by small companies that may want to offer health insurance but cannot afford to do so.
Under the bill, any two or more Kansas employers who do not offer health insurance are authorized to band together to offer a health insurance plan to cover employees and their dependents. In return for setting up the plan, employers get a state income tax credit phased in over a five-year period based on a percentage of the total premium paid or $25 for each employee, whichever is less.
Under the bill, a maximum of 1,000 employees would be covered by the health insurance bill in its first year. If all 1,000 people were included, the tax exemptions going to small businesses would cost the state an estimated $300,000 in tax revenue.