You can help make health care reform better 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. The email can be short; tell them you are a small businesses person and that you support setting up a Health Benefits Exchange. Ask them to support HB 357 and SB 383.
The Virginia General Assembly continues to try and put off action on health care this year. A House of Delegates subcommittee voted 5-4 to table any action on health care reform last week. A State Senate subcommittee should vote on Wednesday. The senate may well pass a bill, which would force the House of Delegates to reconsider.
The debate the state is having is about both whether and how to set up a Health Benefits Exchange. A Health Benefits Exchange (HBE) is a new marketplace where small businesses from all over the state can join in one pool to buy health insurance at much better rates. Governor McDonnell wants to put off action until some vague time in the future. While the House of Delegates has tabled action, the Senate is debating two different options for action. One plan would be to set up a HBE in the State Corporation Commission and prohibit it from using its buying power to get better rates. The other option (SB 383 by McEachin) would set up the HBE as a “quasi-governmental agency” and would not prohibit the use of buying power.
The Commonwealth Institute has a good article on the Health Benefits Exchange. It is available at http://
The national Main Street Alliance has just completed two surveys of small businesses across the country. The surveys covered a number of topics but highlights include: 67% of small businesses say big business does not pay its fair share of taxes; 57% of small businesses think there should be an extra tax on incomes over $1 million; 78% think regulations protect small business from unfair competition; and cutting regulations was ranked fifth in good job creating strategies. Details are available at: http://mainstreetalliance.org/
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-
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. The 80% medical loss ratio requires insurance companies to spend at least 80% of the money they collect in premiums on actual health care.
In a 2009 study, Families USA, looked at how medical care for the uninsured is provided. The study noted that the uninsured receive over $100 billion in medical care each year. The study found that while the uninsured and charities help, about 1/3 of this bill is passed on to those with insurance. The study found that insured families pay about $1000 more each year to cover the uninsured. The study can be found at www.familiesusa.org/resources/
When Congress passed health care reform last year they built in a couple years of implementation. The new law will not be fully in effect until January of 2014. At that time the new health insurance exchanges will start operating. See http://www.kff.org/
The Virginia Main Street Alliance is now on facebook and these updates are available thru facebook.