Marylanders Back Insurance Help for Small Business Workers

State Sen. Katie Fry Hester (D-Howard)

By a wide margin, Maryland voters support a proposal to help small business owners provide health coverage for their workers, according to a public opinion poll conducted in late December.

The poll asked residents if they supported a proposed $15 million program to expand state-based health care subsidies and offer educational assistance to small firms that don’t know they’re eligible for federal tax credits.

Three of four voters — among 1,049 respondents who were reached by mobile and landline telephones — said they support such a program. Eleven percent were opposed and 14 percent had no opinion.

Annapolis-based OpinionWorks conducted the survey for the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative, a non-profit advocacy organization that has worked closely with the legislature to reduce the number of uninsured.

Sen. Katie Fry Hester (D-Howard) has been working for nearly a year with small business owners on ways to help them provide health coverage to their workers. And she is expected to introduce a package of bills next week.

Hester decided to create a bipartisan workgroup, focused on small firms, after the legislature voted last year to raise the minimum wage to $15-an-hour by 2025. To mandate that increase, the General Assembly overrode Republican Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr.’s veto of the hotly-debated bill.

The poll, obtained by Maryland Matters, over-sampled residents in District 9, which Hester represents, because that district is considered a political bellwether. District 9’s delegation is divided evenly between Democrats and Republicans.

In District 9, 68 percent of residents surveyed supported an increase in state health-care subsidies for small firms and assistance for companies that don’t know they’re eligible for federal tax credits. Seventeen percent were opposed and 15 percent had no opinion.

“The people of Maryland of all political persuasions strongly support additional help for small businesses to get health care,” said Vincent DeMarco, MCHI’s president.

“We think this is a very important way to build on the success of the Affordable Care Act.”

The statewide portion of the survey had a margin of error of 3 points. The District 9 oversample had an margin of error of 7.2 points.

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Bruce DePuyt
Bruce DePuyt spent nearly three decades on local television, including 14 years as executive producer and host of News Talk on NewsChannel 8 in the Washington, D.C., area. He has served as reporter, anchor and producer/host of 21 This Week in Montgomery County and as reporter/anchor at NBC affiliate WVIR-TV in Charlottesville, VA. He's a regular contributor to WTOP (103.5 FM) and frequently moderates community and political events.