PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Maine's congressional leaders are divided over what Thursday's Supreme Court healthcare ruling will mean for small businesses.
The bill forces businesses with fifty employees or more to provide basic health insurance. Democrats and Republicans have very different opinions on whether that will help or hurt small businesses across the country. Representative Chellie Pingree says the law will provide relief to the businesses that are struggling with the high cost of providing healthcare for their employees. And there will be help for those that have to make major changes to comply with the law.
"There are subsidies and assistance for small businesses," Pingree told NEWS CENTER. "Some of them are exempted, and the fact is they're already telling me that this is the biggest burden they have to pay, and their employees are saying that if they don't have coverage that affording the cost of healthcare is going through the roof. So I think it will provide assistance and some of the problems that they are currently experiencing today. that's the way we designed the law, and I think this will mean help will be around the corner, not years to come."
But Senator Olympia Snowe says we can't be sure that the law will provide relief for small business owners, because we still don't know how much the health insurance plans are going to cost. She says business owners around the country have told her that they may choose to pay the tax, rather than complying with the law.
"It's going to be more costly and they're going to make a decision ultimately that maybe they should pay the penalty and allow their employees to go into the healthcare exchanges, maybe pay a fraction of that, but it would still be a considerable savings to an individual business than paying for the overall cost of health insurance for their employees" Snowe said.
The healthcare exchanges Snowe is referring to are a key part of the plan. Each state must establish an exchange where individuals and businesses can shop for insurance plans. Maine's exchange has not been set up yet. The exchanges must be online by 2014.