Health-care taxes

The White House, trying to ease concerns that its health-reform plan will hurt small businesses, may propose that small, low-wage employers pay a smaller percentage for workers' health insurance than big companies.

Hillary Rodham Clinton, the first lady, in a private meeting Wednesday with the House Small Business Committee, said the White House was looking at capping small businesses' premiums at between 3 percent and 4 percent of the company's payroll. That would be about half of what large companies are expected to have to contribute under the developing plan.

Mrs. Clinton also told members of the panel, according to people who were there, that American workers would likely have to chip in 20 percent of their health-care costs, as the administration looks at the traditional 80-20 split that many health-care plans now operate under.

No final decisions have as yet been made. President Clinton isn't expected to unveil his package until at least mid-September.

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