October 29, 2012
Please remember to vote next Tuesday. Polls are open from 6:00 am until 7:00 pm. Election information is available on the State Board of Elections website at http://portal.virginia.gov/
JoAnn Grossi, the regional head of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), spoke at an event in Norfolk in early October. At the event, she said that HHS is assuming that Virginia cannot meet the deadlines for setting up a Health Benefit Exchange (HBE). She said that HHS is making plans now to run the HBE in Virginia, at least for the short term. The Affordable Care Act allows states to establish an HBE and requires states to show significant progress in establishing the exchange by January 1, 2013. If the states are not showing this progress, the federal government must step in and set up the exchanges. Governor McDonnell has been saying that the state is making satisfactory progress and that Virginia could decide in the next General Assembly session whether or not to set up a state-run HBE.
Here in Virginia, we are working to set up meetings with members of the General Assembly to express our support for a state run health benefits exchange. Even if Virginia misses the January 1 deadline, the state could aim to operate a HBE starting in 2015, with the federal government running the Virginia HBE for the first year.
Starting this fall, health insurance plans will be required to have a short summary of the cost and benefits of the plan. The Wall Street Journal has a good article at http://professional.wsj.com/
The Kaiser Family Foundation recently released its annual Employer Health Benefits Summary. It found that health insurance costs rose 4% last year. That’s a small increase given history but it is still higher than the inflation rate. The study also found that the average family health insurance policy now costs $15,745. You can see a summary of the report at http://ehbs.kff.org/pdf/2012/
Among the reports issued by the Virginia Health Reform Initiative (the governor appointed task force studying health care reform in Virginia) was a study on the potential size of the exchange in Virginia. The report found that there would be at least 60,000 small businesses with 120,000 covered employees in the small business exchange. The full report, along with other reports, can be found at: http://www.hhr.virginia.gov/
United for a Fair Economy recently took a look at how the 400 richest Americans became wealthy. The report, available at http://www.faireconomy.org/
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