You can make a difference on health care reform in Virginia by sending a simple email to the state legislature. It is easy and quick and can help.
The important debate is whether and how Virginia will set up a Health Benefits Exchange. A Health Benefits Exchange (HBE) is a state sponsored buying club or co-op that will allow small businesses (and individuals) from all over the state to join together in a pool to buy insurance at better rates. The governor does not want Virginia to move forward now, so there will be a debate over whether to do anything. If a HBE is set up three key issues remain: 1) making sure that the health insurance industry cannot dominate the governance of the HBE; 2) making sure that the HBE can use its buying power to get the best rates possible; and 3) whether single employee businesses and businesses with between 50 and 100 employees can use the exchange.
Currently, there are seven bills setting up a HBE. For simplicities sake, HB 357, HB 402 and SB 383 are the good bills. http://legis.virginia.gov/ is a great resource from more information.
You can help by sending a short email to your legislators. Go to http://legis.virginia.gov/, click on the who’s my legislator button on the top right, enter an address and a page will come up with a button to send an email to your legislators. The email can be short; tell them you are a small businesses person and that you support setting up a HBE. Ask them to support HB 357, HB 402 or SB 383.
We got a good editorial from the Virginia Pilot supporting the state setting up an exchange http://hamptonroads.com/2012/
The Commonwealth Institute has a good article on the Health Benefits Exchange. It is available at http://
Blue Cross/Blue Shield of West Virginia cut its December premiums for small business by 75% because it was exceeding the 80% medical loss ratio in the health reform bill. Aetna of Delaware has cut some individual health premiums by 10% because it was exceeding the 80% medical loss ratio in the health reform bill. The 80% medical loss ratio requires insurance companies to spend at least 80% of the money they collect in premiums on actual health care.
A recent study found that small businesses pay 18% more than large businesses for health insurance coverage. The large pooling and buying power that the Health Benefit Exchange will provide can help change this equation. See http://content.healthaffairs.
There is a federal income tax credit for small businesses that provide health insurance for their employees. The credit will carry over into the future if it is not all used in one year. IRS form 8941 contains information http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-
United Virginia is hosting a series of workshops on starting and growing a business. The workshops are in an economic gardening model (see http://www.littletongov.org/
This update is provided by the Virginia Main Street Alliance, a project of Virginia Organizing. Contact Bob Becker at firstname.lastname@example.org or 804-937-0752 with questions or comments.