by Ann Janikowski
Today’s meeting kicked off with a surprise at the podium as Laura Rehrmann took a trial run as president by presiding over the opening song and invocation (led by Linda Rough, Burr Stewart and Erick Slabaugh).
Next, after a heartfelt goodbye from Admiral Mark Rich (and a welcome to Bette Bolivar), Patrick Carter introduced two recipients of the Phil Smart Sr. scholarship, who are now accomplished college students and looking forward to their next academic adventure.
The short program today featured Jeff Blosser, President and CEO of the Convention Center, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary. Why the hoopla? Because it is good to celebrate success! Many residents underestimate the importance of the convention industry, but it has brought over $475 billion of economic impact to our region. In fact, the Convention Center currently turns away as much business as it accepts, which may necessitate an expansion.
Then came the long program about the Affordable Health Care Act. Topping out at a massive 170,000 pages, the mere mention of the AHCA is enough to send shivers down any executive’s spine. What are the rules? What are the costs? Today’s program sought to shed light on those concerns.
President Paul moderated an interactive interview featuring Mark Rose, partner and director of Healthplan Compliance and Reform at The Partners Group. The audience received simple instructions: Keep it short, keep it focused and no compound questions.
In deference to this request, below are some rapid-fire highlights of the discussion:
Q: Who does it impact?
A: Everyone. Individuals have to buy a plan, small businesses have to offer an essential health benefits package and large businesses (50+ employees) will also need to offer coverage.
Q: What is an insurance exchange?
A: Exchanges are marketplaces where people can go to look for coverage. Beginning in 2016, smaller businesses can join the Small Health Options Program. Employers using the Associated Health Plans will soon be required to go through the private market for coverage.
Q: Describe how this affects Medicare/Med-Advantage plans?
A: No impact.
Q: Does anything change for federal employees or union plans?
A: Government employees (county or city workers), will be subject to the same rules as any large employer. Individual federal employees will need to go through exchanges. Unions will have to continue to offer coverage.
Q: What is the penalty for people who don’t want to sign up for coverage?
A: $95 per year, per person, or 1% of annual income. The penalties for large businesses start at $2,000 per full-time employee.
Q: What if someone has a pre-existing condition?
A: Beginning in 2014, all plans will be guaranteed issue to any individual, regardless of pre-existing conditions. There will be no co-pay on annual exams, and zero cost-share on any fully insured plan for preventive services.
Q: Who will enforce the penalties?
A: The IRS, in the form of a checkbox on your tax return. However, there are no plans as of now for active enforcement.
Q: Do companies still need to designate between full-time and part-time employees?
A: Yes. A full-time employee is someone who works more than 30 hours a week. And there are some exceptions around variable hour employees.
While the ACA may not be affordable for everyone, it is here to stay. If you need more guidance, Mark suggests turning to someone that can provide advice specific to your company, and not just around general guidelines.
In closing, President Paul delivered some parting words of advice using his signature wit, which will be missed: “I wish you … good luck.”