Rhode Island business groups are asking state lawmakers not to emulate Massachusetts’ tax on companies whose workers receive public health insurance, saying it has had “devastating” and “nightmarish” economic consequences there.
Grocers, home-care providers, restaurant chains and some hospitals are among the business interests fighting the plan in Gov. Gina Raimondo’s budget to charge companies with at least 300 employees a 10-percent fee on the wages of Medicaid-enrolled workers. The budget expects to collect $15.6 million next year and $19.5 million each year after that from the charge.
The Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce also opposes the Medicaid charge. Chamber lobbyist Elizabeth Suever said on Tuesday that businesses object to having no way of knowing how many of their workers are receiving Medicaid until they receive a bill and can be charged if employees don’t take the insurance they offer.
“Not only is it a new tax that would make us an outlier to other states in the country, but an employer can’t make someone go on their health-insurance coverage,” Suever said. “The employer has no way of knowing that their employee is going onto state Medicaid until they get the bill. There’s no way to budget.”
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