Health care reform is here to stay! Later this week the U.S. House of Representatives will vote again to repeal health care reform. But that will be a wholly symbolic vote. There is almost no way repeal of health care reform can get enough votes to overcome a presidential veto for at least three more years. So the major parts of health care reform will start at the end of this year.
Small businesses (and individuals) will have the option of buying health insurance in the new Health Insurance Marketplace (Health Benefits Exchange). People with pre-existing conditions will be able to purchase insurance. And the new community rating cost structure means that all of us will pay more similar rates. So our focus continues to be letting small business owners know about the options. We can talk to small business folks in small or large groups and these updates provide some good information. The website http://www.healthcare.gov/ is also a great source of information about the changes.
The new co-op or buyers club that will let small businesses (and individuals) buy health insurance as part of a large group is now being called the Health Insurance Marketplace rather than the Health Benefits Exchange.
Medicaid expansion, which will create 30,000 jobs in Virginia and should lower health insurance costs by covering over 250,000 uninsured Virginians will be decided by the Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission (MIRC). This commission is made of a 10 legislators and will meet starting in June to decide if the “reforms” to Medicaid have been implemented. Once the reforms are implemented the MIRC can vote to expand Medicaid. The members are Senators Walter Stosch, John Watkins, Emmett Hanger, Janet Howell and Louise Lucas; and Delegates John O’Bannon, Jimmie Massie, Beverly Sherwood, John Landis and Johnny Joannou.
The Virginia Health Reform Initiative, the task force the Governor set up to oversee health care reform in Virginia, will meet again on Wednesday, June 12 at 1:00 pm in House Room D of the General Assembly Building in downtown Richmond.
The federal government, which is running the Health Insurance Marketplace in Virginia, has started outreach to find and educate folks to help others sign up for health insurance later this year. The feds have some grant money for paid “Navigators” to help folks sign up. The feds will also be providing training for certified application counselors who will be volunteers, knowledgeable about the system who can help folks figure out insurance options.
The federal government recently released a report on what hospitals charge for various services. The report reveals a system that (according to the Washington Post) is “a health-care system with tremendous, seemingly random variation in the costs of services.” See http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/05/08/one-hospital-charges-8000-another-38000/?hpid=z1
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