The 2020 Presidential Election is in full swing and as Granite Staters we are privileged to have unfettered access to candidates, their campaigns, and engage in a way other states do not.  While many of the faces have changed since we last hosted the first in the nation presidential primary, one issue is as prevalent as ever, health care.

Access to affordable health care remains a top priority for candidates and many voters.  Even though we may not all agree on how to get there, we can all agree something must be done to make the current system better.  The good news is we don’t have to wait to start making positive changes. Congress can do something now.

There is a bipartisan effort in Congress to suspend the health insurance tax (HIT), which was enacted by congress years ago and essentially acts like a sales tax on every health plan purchased in the marketplace.  As a result of the HIT, small business owners would pay an additional tax of roughly $500 on every insurance plan they purchase for themselves and each of their employees.  It doesn’t take a Ph.D. in mathematics to realize this becomes costly very quickly for many employers.  For example, a company with 40 employees would be paying an additional $20,000 in taxes simply because they offer health coverage to their employees.

That is real money that could otherwise be utilized to hire more people, invest in new equipment, or provide raises to existing workers.  With many businesses already operating on razor-thin margins, this could result in companies making the tough decision to close their doors or no longer offer health insurance as part of an employment package.  Neither result is desirable and will only make the current situation worse for employers who struggle to fit a health care plan into their budgets and their employees who rely on that benefit.

At A.J. Letizio Sales & Marketing, I am proud of my team and consider everyone that works here a member of the family.  I made a commitment years ago to offer health insurance to my employees and to cover 100% of those plans, never asking anyone to contribute a cent of their hard-earned dollars towards those costs.  Despite rising premiums and an increasingly unpredictable insurance market, we’ve kept that promise.  If this health insurance tax is not suspended, it will make that commitment all the more difficult to keep.

Every small business owner in our state is facing this same dilemma if the health insurance tax is allowed to remain on the books.  In a state where more than 95 percent of employers are considered small businesses, this tax would hit New Hampshire disproportionately hard.

Although she and I don’t agree on most issues, Senator Shaheen and I agree on this one. She understands these concerns and has introduced legislation in the United States Senate to suspend this tax demonstrating that this is truly a bipartisan issue.  This is an essential first step in lowering health care costs, but Congress needs to act by the end of the year if that has any chance of happening.