The House health care reform bill helps small businesses by making coverage more affordable and allowing more flexibility in how they provide health insurance coverage. Under the bill, small businesses would see:

• NEGOTIATED PRICES: Small businesses will be able to provide insurance to their employees through the health insurance exchange where insurers will compete for millions of enrollees with rates comparable to those enjoyed by large employers.

• EXEMPT FROM INSURANCE REQUIREMENTS: Businesses with payrolls less than $500,000, or 87% of all businesses and 95% of small businesses, are exempt from requirement to provide health insurance. The bill also has a reduced penalty for small businesses with payrolls of between $500,000 and $750,000.

• MORE AND BETTER CHOICES FOR EMPLOYEES: In the exchange, employees will be able to choose from a wide variety of plans, including a new public option, that meet new minimum standards.

• TAX CREDITS: Small businesses most in need of assistance, those with low average salaries, will have a permanent tax credit –of up to half of the cost of premiums– to help them offer coverage to their employees.

• SIMPLER ADMINISTATION: Allows small businesses and entrepreneurs to focus on growing their business and expanding our economy instead of administering health care plans.

Now the House and Senate need to come together and pass health care reform to ensure that small businesses can overcome the challenges of rising health care costs. As I carry on my efforts and look forward to working in the U.S. Senate, I will continue to protect the critical role small business play in America’s economic growth.