The next meeting of the Virginia Health Reform Initiative (the group planning how Virginia will do health care reform) will be on Friday, July 15 in Richmond at the Virginia Department of Health Professions, 9960 Mayland Drive, actually in Henrico County. The focus of the meeting is about how the state is going to save Virginians money on health insurance costs thru the health insurance exchange. More info at http://www.hhr.virginia.gov/Initiatives/HealthReform/. The VHRI has sent out a 20 page memo on the topic. Written comments are due June 29 by emailing to VHRI@governor.virginia.gov.
One of the major decisions that the VHRI will make on July 15 is whether the exchange will be an “active purchaser” of insurance. An “active purchaser” model means that the exchange will use its size to actively negotiate better rates. In our survey of small businesses the “active purchaser” model is supported by 2/3 of small businesses. The leadership team of VMSA will be talking Monday about actions so there may be another email on just this topic next week.
The Commonwealth Institute has a good background piece on the Health Insurance Exchange. http://thecommonwealthinstitute.org/Portals/16/Health/healthexchanges.jan.10.v3.lowres.pdf
As part of the transition to covering people with pre-existing conditions, the federal government has set up a Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan in Virginia. Anyone who has been uninsured for at least six months and has been turned down because of a pre-existing condition can purchase health insurance through this plan. Monthly premiums run from $93 to $401.
Go to http://www.healthcare.gov/law/provisions/preexisting/index.html for more information.
While setting up an effective health insurance exchange will help small businesses save money, long term savings will also come thru having a healthier community. The federal health care reform takes two steps on this. First, new insurance plans are required to provide a large list of preventive care with no co-pay or deductible . See http://www.healthcare.gov/law/provisions/preventive/index.html for more info. In addition, the law allows wellness incentives that encourage people to live a healthier lifestyle by charging lower premiums for healthy choices. See http://www.wellnesstaxcredit.com/ for more information on wellness incentives.
Copies of these updates are available on the Virginia Organizing Website http://www.virginia-organizing.org/ and click on small business. Because so many people do not see each email there are many duplicates on these updates.
There is a federal tax credit for businesses that provide health insurance for their employees. For more information go to http://www.healthcare.gov/ and click on the link for small business tax credits on the bottom left.
The Obama Administration has launched a new program to encourage small businesses. The new program is called Start Up America and is part of a wide effort to get more money into small business. Details of the plan and link to similar programs can be seen at http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/startup-america .
The Virginia Main Street Alliance is a project of Virginia Organizing, a statewide citizens group. Virginia Organizing will be holding its annual meeting in Richmond on Saturday, August 13. VMSA members are encouraged to attend this event.