Actual Good News on Health Coverage.

Here's some good news on the Affordable Care Act front, from The Wall Street Journal:

The number of small businesses offering health insurance to workers is projected to increase sharply this year, recent data show, a shift that researchers attribute to a tax credit in the health law. Many small businesses, however, remain opposed to the law.

Some small businesses are benefiting from portions of the law, which includes a tax credit beginning this year that covers as much as 35% of a company's insurance premiums.

According to a report by Bernstein Research in New York, the percentage of employers with between three and nine workers and which are offering insurance has increased to 59% this year, up from 46% last year. The report relies on data from a September survey by the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation.

A full tax credit is available to employers with 10 or fewer full-time workers and average annual wages of less than $25,000. The credit phases out gradually and has a cap at employers with 25 workers and average annual wages of $50,000. The White House estimates that 4 million employers will qualify for the credit.

Though things like the individual mandate and the insurance exchanges get most of the attention, the ACA contained lots and lots of provisions meant to increase coverage, cut costs, and improve the quality of care; the small-business credits are just one. This is a substantive strength and a political weakness. It uses many different mechanisms to achieve its goals, and in all likelihood, some will turn out to be ineffectual while others will turn out to work better than anyone expected. But because it's not one big thing, the ACA can be hard for people to understand, and it's easy to attack.

Most of these smaller provisions will go unnoticed by most of the public. But it wouldn't hurt for the administration to draw more attention to them. This study is good news for the White House, particularly at a time when newly emboldened congressional Republicans are talking about repealing the ACA. So I went over to the websites of the Department of Health and Human Services and the White House to see how they were trumpeting it. You'll never guess what I found: nothing.

-- Paul Waldman

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