Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot and the Maryland Health Care For All Coalition are encouraging small businesses in Anne Arundel County to use federal tax credits available through the Affordable Care Act to cover some of the costs of providing employee health insurance.

Franchot will kick off a campaign Thursday to reach more than 5,000 of the county's businesses through mailings. The health reform law requires businesses with 50 or more employees to offer health insurance by Jan. 1, 2015, but businesses with fewer than 50 workers are not required to offer insurance. The letter-writing campaign is an effort to spur more small businesses to start or continue offering health benefits.

Franchot launched a similar effort in July in Howard County. The comptroller's office estimates nearly 110,000 businesses in Maryland could be eligible, based on the number of employees and the amount of withholding.

Lorraine.mirabella@baltsun.com