April 16, 2013
The Virginia General Assembly approved most of the “amendments” that Governor McDonnell proposed on health care reform. The “clarifying” language on Medicaid expansion passed easily. There was a good deal of debate about the prohibition of abortion coverage but that passed as well.
Most of the major provisions of health care reform take effect at the end of this year. There is still a need for letting people know what is coming. Polls generally find that three-fourths of the people who would benefit from health care reform were unfamiliar with it. Small businesses will be able to buy health insurance on the new Health Benefits Exchange this fall but if they don’t know it is an option it won’t help at all.
So this year we need to all help spread the word about how health care reform can help small businesses. Forward these emails to other small business if you think it will help. You can also reply to this email to suggest folks who should be added to this list.
Heathcare.gov has a good flyer that explains health care reform for small business that you could print and pass on to business associates. VMSA is also working to develop a handout for Virginia. Everything we do helps.
Joann Grossi, the regional Director of the US Department of Health and Human Services will be speaking in Virginia Beach on Tuesday, April 23 at 7:00 pm. Ms. Grossi will be in charge of setting up the Health Benefits Exchange in Virginia. So whatever information she has will be valuable. She will be speaking at New Hope Baptist Church, 395 Old Great Neck Road.
The decision to expand Medicaid in Virginia will be made by a commission of ten state legislators. The ten legislators are: Senators Stosch from Glen Allen; Senator Watkins from Midlothian; Senator Lucas from Portsmouth; Senator Hanger from Mt Solon; Senator Howell from Reston; Delegate Landes from Verona; Delegate Joannou from Portsmouth; Delegates O’Bannon and Massie from Henrico County; and Delegate Sherwood from Winchester. Medicaid expansion should lower health insurance rates for small business as fewer uninsured people means fewer people for the covered folks to help pay for. A study a few years ago found that every family health insurance policy costs about $1000 more a year to pay the costs of those without insurance.
A major facet of health care reform for small business is a Health Benefit Exchange (HBE). A HBE is a co-op or buyers club that will allow small businesses from all over the state to join one big pool to purchase health insurance. The size of the pool should result in better rates for small businesses. The HBE should have an easy to use website where small businesses can compare and buy insurance plans. The HBE will be voluntary and will start operating later this year in time to allow small businesses that renew their health insurance plans in the fall to use the website to search for better rates.
The federal government already has a new online tool to help small businesses (and individuals) find health insurance options. See http://www.healthcare.gov/videos/2011/11/small-business-health-plan-finder.html for more information
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