Iowa small businesses want to provide good health care benefits to attract and retain the best workers, but they often find it financially difficult or impossible. Health care is the fastest-growing expense for small business owners. On average, small businesses pay 18 percent more than large businesses for the same coverage, and health insurance premiums have gone up three times faster than wages in the last 10 years. To ease the financial burden on Iowa small businesses, the Senate Economic Growth Committee has approved Senate File 412. This bill builds on a federal tax credit through the Affordable Care Act for businesses with fewer than 25 full-time employees. The federal tax credit equals 35 percent of the cost of providing health care to employees through 2013 and 50 percent starting in 2014. Senate File 412 benefits more than 73,000 Iowa businesses with fewer than 25 employees by providing a state tax credit worth 25 percent of the federal credit. That means even the smallest businesses can get a state refund check by providing health care to their employees. A company that spends $50,000 a year providing health care benefits would receive a 35 percent federal credit of $17,500. With the addition of our state credit, they'd get an extra $4,375. That means an employer would get $21,875 back for providing $50,000 in health insurance benefits to employees. This tax credit is one step in an effort to bring down health care costs and make coverage affordable for all.