Local business leaders met recently at the Knoxville Chamber to discuss how the health insurance tax, or HIT, will impact Tennessee small businesses in 2018 if it is not delayed immediately by Congress. Business leaders called on the state’s senators and representatives in Congress to lower premiums and provide financial relief to the state by ensuring that the HIT does not go into effect in 2018.

“Time is of the essence to delay this tax again,” said Terry Turner, chairman of the Knoxville Chamber and the owner of All Occasions Party Rental. “We are all making insurance decisions in the next few weeks for next year and we need certainty from the federal government.”

The discussion occurred one week ahead of hearings scheduled by Tennessee’s Senator Lamar Alexander on the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions, which is considering bipartisan measures to stabilize premiums in the state insurance marketplaces. In 2015, Senator Alexander and Senator Bob Corker joined a bipartisan group of more than 400 members of Congress to pass legislation to delay the HIT, providing a one-year reprieve from the tax in 2017 to consumers. However, the HIT is set to go into effect at the start of 2018.

Without action by Congress to again delay the tax, small businesses and working families who receive their health care coverage through their employer or are self-employed will face a major tax hike when the HIT returns in 2018.

A recent study by Oliver Wyman shows that families in the small employer market could be faced with $500 on average in higher premiums in 2018 as a result of the HIT. Self-employed individuals buying their insurance may face even higher increases.

Roundtable participants emphasized the need for Congress to provide certainty and continuity to Tennessee businesses and professionals by keeping the current suspension of the tax in place, particularly as consumers are now renewing their health care policies for next year.

The Stop the HIT Coalition has been formed to represent the nation’s small business owners, their employees and the self-employed who are actively working to repeal the Health Insurance Tax. The Coalition’s includes more than 35 national organizations, including the U.S. Chamber, representing millions of small business owners across the country. For more information, please visit www.StopTheHIT.com.