Hawaii Receives First Waiver for Small Business Health Options Program Under Affordable Care Act

The federal Department of Health and Human Services announced today that Hawaiʻi has been granted a State Innovation Waiver under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The waiver applies only to the Small Business Health Options Program.

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Since 1974, Hawaiʻi’s Prepaid Health Care Act has required employers to offer healthcare insurance to employees working more than 20 hours per week and to pay the majority of the premium. These provisions offer Hawaiʻi residents greater coverage than the ACA.

“This action acknowledges the success of the state’s Prepaid Health Care Act in providing insurance to a majority of Hawaiʻi’s residents and the role it plays in the continued health of our citizens. We appreciate President Obama’s and Secretary Burwell’s leadership on this important issue and the Obama administration’s recognition that Hawaiʻi stands at the forefront in delivering affordable access to healthcare,” said Gov. Ige.

As part of this waiver, the federal government will provide additional federal funds for the Prepaid Health Care Act’s Premium Supplementation Program to replace the small business tax credits that would have been provided under ACA SHOP. This program helps qualified small businesses operating in Hawaiʻi pay for their portion of insurance premiums.

The waiver approval is effective for five years from January 1, 2017 through December 31, 2021.

The waiver approval letter is posted online: https://www.cms.gov/CCIIO/Programs-and-Initiatives/State-Innovation-Waivers/Downloads/Hawaii-1332-State-Innovation-Waiver-Approval-Letter-and-STCs-Final-123016.pdf

Individuals and families who do not currently have health insurance through their employer or a government program can sign up for coverage at healthcare.gov through January 31, 2017.

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