CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
Voice of Business Since 1911
200 Pocasset Street, Fall River, MA 02721 •
Proposed “Fair Share Assessment” on Businesses
In January, Gov. Charlie Baker filed his $40.5 billion FY18 state budget proposal. Included in
the proposal is a return of the former “Fair Share Assessment” on employers that was part of the
old MA Health Care reform law. However, unlike the old $295 per employee assessment, the
new version is nothing less than a money grab from small businesses.
As background, the original “Fair Share” regulation was established in 2006. This assessment
was never intended to be a revenue generator as it only raised about $7.5 million. Not much
revenue was needed in 2006, because “Romney Care” was federally subsidized.
The new proposal is completely different.
Its purpose is to fill a hole in the state budget by placing a far
greater tax burden on small and mid-sized businesses. There is nothing “fair” about it.
The proposed assessment is clearly intended to raise hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes
from unsuspecting Massachusetts employers who are doing the right thing by offering insurance
plans to their employees.
No employer can legally force or coerce 80% or more of their
employees to use a health insurance plan offered by the company. Any employer who acted in
such a manner would be either prosecuted or sued. That is why the Assessment acts as a tax.
The original plan would have levied a $2,000 per employee assessment on employers who do not
contribute $4,950 per full-time employee (FTE) annually, or have an 80% uptake rate for all
FTEs. The House of Representative has since put forward their FY2018 Budget with “Fair Share
Assessment” language included.
In order to avoid the stigma of $2,000 per employee, they left it
to an agency to determine how much and how exactly the Assessment will be triggered.
Now the Senate is working on their version of the FY2018 Budget. Senate President Stanley Rosenberg is
already on record stating that some kind of “Assessment on businesses” has to be done to pay for
the growing funding gap in MassHealth.
The new assessment is said to be needed in order to close a $600 million budget gap in the
state’s MassHealth Medicaid program. Small businesses, a majority of whom offer health
insurance plans, did not create the existing fiscal dilemma where 30% of state residents are
enrolled in MassHealth.
It is also worth noting that health care makes up more than 40% of
Massachusetts’ proposed $40.3 billion budget.
Legislators should first address the exceptionally
high cost of health care before inventing new ways to take money from businesses.
Please keep in mind that this Legislative Session also includes bills that if enacted would
mandate Employer Paid Family Leave, Strict Scheduling, a $15 Minimum Wage, the
Millionaire’s Tax (another tax on businesses) and further increase energy costs. All of these antibusiness
bills are supported by many legislators and are being seriously considered all at once.
It is why employers across the state are absolutely stunned to find out that the Assessment is
practically a done deal. It is hoped that this is not true.
In the days ahead it is hoped that State Legislators contemplate the impacts of the Assessment to
businesses. They should also balance the totality of the impacts when considering additional anti
business laws such as Employer Paid Family Leave, Strict Scheduling, and a $15 Minimum
Wage. Hopefully they can conclude that this is too much for Massachusetts businesses to absorb
Robert A. Mellion, Esq.
President & CEO