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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.

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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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