January 28, 2013
This week there will be significant action in the Virginia General Assembly on both the Health Benefits Exchange and on Medicaid expansion. If you have not already contacted your state representatives in the General Assembly, please do so. Go to http://
Because Medicaid expansion is a budget issue, this week is especially important as the budget committees in the House and Senate will finish their budgets by the end of the week. While the Governor’s budget does not include Medicaid expansion, key Republican legislators will be offering amendments to add Medicaid to the budget. (Because it will be 100% federally funded for the first three years Medicaid expansion will not cost Virginia anything but it must be in the budget so we can accept the federal money). Delegate John O’Bannon of Richmond and Senator Emmett Hanger of Staunton are proposing amendments to expand Medicaid. Emails, calls or letters of thanks to these two are helpful.
Medicaid expansion will bring over 400,000 low-income Virginians into the health care system. We all benefit because the cost of health insurance goes down when most people are covered. The Hospital Association study found that health insurance costs should be 0.7% lower because of Medicaid expansion. Medicaid expansion will also create close to 30,000 jobs in Virginia and it will actually cost the state less money to expand Medicaid than to not expand it.
A bill to create a “partnership” Health Benefits Exchange (HBE) is also moving in both the House and the Senate. While the bill seems to be moving fine in the state Senate, it is having trouble in the Commerce and Labor Committee of the House of Delegates. The opposition is coming from members who just do not want to do anything about health care reform. While we support these bills, Virginia will get a Health Benefits Exchange no matter what the General Assembly does. If these bills do not pass, Virginia will have an HBE run completely by the federal government. If these “partnership” bills pass, the HBE will be run partly by the feds and partly by the state.
When VMSA surveyed small business people about support for the HBE, over 80% of small business people support the idea of the Health Benefit Exchange. You can see the full survey at http://www.virginia-
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-
The federal government has an online tool to help small businesses (and individuals) find health insurance options. See http://www.healthcare.gov/
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