For Immediate Release - May 25, 2011

PATRICK-MURRAY ADMINISTRATION PROPOSES KEY INITIATIVES TO REMOVE BARRIERS TO SMALL BUSINESSES TO HELP CREATE JOBS

BOSTON - Wednesday, May 25, 2011 - Secretary of Administration and Finance Jay Gonzalez today announced several reforms which will standardize and streamline the Commonwealth's procurement process and help contain health care costs for small businesses.

"The Patrick-Murray Administration is implementing reforms to make it easier for small businesses to compete and succeed in Massachusetts," said Secretary Gonzalez. "Governor Patrick is focused on creating opportunities for small businesses, creating jobs for our residents, and containing health care costs so businesses can survive and thrive."

Removing Barriers to Procurement
Effective July 1 st the Operational Services Division (OSD) will stop collecting the annual vendor registration fee of $275 charged to businesses participating in Comm-PASS, the Commonwealth's procurement bidding system, which will result in more competition and lower costs for doing business.

In addition to lifting the annual vendor registration fee, the Operational Services Division is increasing the competitive bidding range for Massachusetts registered small businesses from $5,000 to $150,000 for department specific solicitations. Previously, the high end of the threshold was $50,000. This change will help small business compete for larger bids and spur additional hiring among smaller companies as they take on additional business.

The Operational Services Division has also streamlined access to a variety of minority, women, small and disadvantaged businesses by centralizing the management for a variety of diversity programs and initiatives within its Supplier Diversity Office.

Helping Small Businesses Contain Health Care Costs

In July, the Health Connector will eliminate the fee it currently charges small businesses to shop through Commonwealth Choice. This fee was already significantly lower than those charged when small businesses shopped through other intermediaries, and will now be waived to further promote the use of Commonwealth Choice.

The Patrick-Murray Administration also remains focused on reducing premiums for small businesses across the Commonwealth. The Administration's FY12 budget includes $10 million (including $2.5 million contribution from the Health Connector) for the Health Connector to implement a provision of Chapter 288 to offer premium discounts for certain small businesses which purchase coverage through Commonwealth Choice and set up wellness programs for their employees. This will reduce premiums for qualifying small businesses by up to 5 percent.

In addition, The Health Connector will update its Commonwealth Choice program to allow small businesses and individuals to search if a desired hospital or doctor is covered through the health plans they are considering.

The Patrick-Murray Administration's ongoing efforts to lower health care costs for small businesses and families continued this month as the Division of Insurance instituted the creation of limited network plans, which will cost 12 percent less than "normal" plans, and group purchasing cooperatives, which will allow businesses and individuals to combine market buying power. The Division of Insurance will hold informational sessions around the state for organizations interested in applying for cooperative status, starting June 13, with meetings in Lowell, Worcester, Bridgewater and Amherst.

The Administration has also supported small business growth through a number of economic development programs including: the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation, created and capitalized with $35 million through the Economic Development Reorganization Act to serve as a one stop resource for small businesses seeking capital and advice; the Massachusetts Technology Development Corporation, which provides funding for start-up and expansion of early-stage technology companies in the Commonwealth; and the Business Development Corporation's state-funded Capital Access Program, which has provided loans to community-based, small businesses in every one of the 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts.

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