Hillary Clinton wants to encourage more small businesses to give their employees health coverage, as the Affordable Care Act's effort toward that goal has largely failed.
The Democratic presidential nominee proposed simplying and expanding the healthcare law's tax credit for small employers as part of a larger small business plan her campaign released Tuesday.
"Many small businesses want to take care of their employees and provide robust health insurance and retirement accounts, but the costs can be significant, and qualifying for available relief can be complicated and difficult," Clinton's proposal says.
Clinton didn't directly refer to the small business health exchanges created by President Obama's healthcare law, but the proposal acknowledges that businesses with fewer than 50 employees need much more incentive to provide benefits for their workers.
The law doesn't require small businesses to provide coverage, but it did create special marketplaces known as the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) where they could go to buy coverage if they chose. But the SHOP exchanges have mostly languished, with only a tiny fraction of small business employees using them.
Many small businesses don't know about the SHOP exchanges or opt out of using them because the coverage is too expensive or because the marketplaces have been plagued with technological difficulties.
Clinton's proposal says the rules around using the SHOP exchanges are too complex and need to be simplified so it's easier for more small businesses to get the tax credit and start covering their workers. About one-third of businesses with fewer than 50 workers offer health benefits.
Clinton's small business plan also proposes that the federal government work with states to make starting a business easier, help small businesses gain access to capital and create a new standard tax deduction for small businesses, among other proposals.