Key provision of health care law for business unresolved

The Obama administration has insisted that Americans will see the benefit of the new health care law if it does a better job of explaining to the American people what’s in it.

Who will explain it to the Obama adminstration?

MPR’s health care law reporter, Elizabeth Stawicki, has been trying to update this presentation, which we posted on News Cut while the House and Senate were debating separate proposals. It explained the impact of each law on a typical small business.

Now that the law is finalized, it seemed like a good time to update the presentation.

She found a discrepancy on the upper limit of employees to get a small business tax credit under the law. One government site said 25. Another government site said 24. The law, itself, says 25 (Page 120 or 906 here).

But a release from the Internal Revenue Service says it’s 24 or fewer.

The Web site for Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sibelius also says the credit goes to businesses with fewer than 25 employees.

When quizzed by Stawicki about the discrepancy, Sibelius’ spokesman, Nicholas Papas, said the correct answer is “fewer than 25.”

“Do I have the wrong version of the law, then?” Stawicki asked in an e-mail.

Papas referred her to a White House fact sheet that confirms the credit goes to businesses with fewer than 25 employees.

There’s only one problem. That’s not what the law says.

“Check with Treasury on this,” Papas advised.

Update 3:50 p.m. – The Treasury Department’s ruling: It’s available to small businesses who employ up to 24 full-time employees. Nonetheless, the law as passed actually says 25 “fulltime equivalent” employees.

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