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December 29, 2009
Senate OKs Healthcare Overhaul with Employer Mandate

The U.S. Senate voted 60 to 39 last week in favor of legislation that would require individuals to maintain healthcare coverage and require employers with more than 50 employees to offer healthcare insurance.

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Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (HR 3590), an employer with more than 50 full-time employees would be required to pay $750 per employee if the employer fails to offer health coverage and has at least one full-time employee receiving a premium assistance tax credit created by the legislation. An employer with more than 50 employees that does offer coverage but has at least one full-time employee receiving the premium assistance tax credit will pay the lesser of $3,000 for each of those employees receiving a tax credit or $750 for each of their full-time employees total.

The legislation would also require employers with more than 200 employees to automatically enroll new full-time employees in health coverage.

Individuals would be required to maintain health coverage beginning in 2014. Individuals who fail to maintain coverage would be required to pay a penalty of $95 in 2014, $350 in 2015, $750 in 2016, and indexed thereafter.

Much of the healthcare legislation addresses the health plans purchased through the individual market (nongroup market). The legislation would require states to create exchanges for individuals to purchase healthcare coverage. Employers would be required to notify employees of the existence of the exchanges.

Since the House approved a different version of a healthcare overhaul, House-Senate negotiators must iron out a final Congress-approved version of the bill before it would reach President Obama's desk.


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