February 10, 2013
Health care reform is doing much better in the Virginia General Assembly than would have been predicted last year.
A “Partnership” Health Benefits Exchange is moving easily through the legislature. This will set up a Health Benefits Exchange run jointly by the federal and state governments. The bill was sponsored by Delegate Terry Kilgore in the House of Delegates and Senator John Watkins in the state Senate. After some initial opposition, it now has lots of support. The Health Benefits Exchange is the new marketplace that will allow small businesses to buy health insurance as part of a much larger pool and should reduce prices. The Exchange will start operating at the end of this year.
Medicaid expansion, which will help us all by covering more Virginians and lowering health insurance prices, was included in the state Senate’s budget but not in the budget adopted by the Virginia House of Delegates. On the Senate side, Senator Walter Stosch of Glen Allen sponsored an amendment to the budget to include Medicaid expansion. This amendment passed the state Senate with strong support. Because the House of Delegates did not include Medicaid expansion, there will be a conference committee of six senators and six delegates to work out the differences. After the conference committee agrees, both the State senate and the House of Delegates will vote on the final agreement, so every legislator will have a say on whether Virginia expands Medicaid.
Please take a moment to contact your state legislators once again and ask them to support health care reform in Virginia. You can visit http://
Once the General Assembly has finished with legislation, the struggle will continue as we will work with Virginia state officials and the federal government on implementation of the new Health Benefits Exchange and Medicaid expansion as well as outreach to small business to inform them of these opportunities.
The Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association released a study that shows that expanding Medicaid will cost the state LESS money than not expanding it. Because the federal government will pick up most of the cost, and because the state spends a good deal now on indigent care, expanding Medicaid will cost very little, while not expanding it may drive up costs a good deal. Plus, the study showed that health insurance costs for those with coverage should go down by slightly less than 1 percent as fewer folks are using uncompensated care. Finally, expansion should add about 30,000 jobs. The report is available at http://www.vhha.com/
The federal budget continues to be a source of concern for many small businesses in Virginia. The potential loss of jobs from the automatic budget cuts called “sequestration” could hurt the economy and many small businesses.
Entrepreneur Magazine did an interesting and informative article on how small businesses can prepare for health care reform. It is worth a look at http://www.entrepreneur.com/
Virginia Main Street Alliance has posted several videos of local small business people talking about health care reform. The videos are on the Virginia Organizing You Tube site at http://www.youtube.com/user/
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-
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