On May 26 the Virginia Health Reform Initiative (VHRI), met in Richmond. The meeting focused on governance and structure for the new health insurance exchange. The VHRI tentatively decided that the exchange should be located in a “quasi-government agency” and that it should have a large board with broad representation. The VHRI will be taking on an important issue at its July 15 meeting; how the exchange will operate. However, at the May 26 meeting the President of Blue Cross/Blue Shield tried to exclude the option of the exchange being an “active purchaser”. Interestingly, the attempt to rule out this option failed 14-2, which gives us hope that the VHRI may do the right thing on this issue. http://www.hhr.virginia.gov/initiatives/healthreform for background information.
A Health Insurance Exchange can be a key way to help lower health insurance costs for small business. By allowing small businesses all over the state to band together to shop for coverage the Exchange should lower rates thru just its size. However, the Exchange also could be an “active purchaser”, which should lower rates even more. An active purchaser model allows the Exchange to negotiate prices with the insurance companies.
The Virginia Main Street Alliance has been surveying small businesses across that state about issues related to health care reform implementation. We have surveyed well over 200 small businesses. On the question of how the Exchange should operate, over 65% of small businesses want the exchange to be an “active purchaser” and negotiate with health insurance companies.
The VHRI will soon set its agenda for the July 15 meeting. We think it will take on operational questions. The VHRI will first write and send out a white paper on the issues. Then they should accept comments for 2-3 weeks. Then they will decide at the July 15 meeting.
These updates are now going out thru a new email system that is part of Virginia Organizing. The new system makes it much easier and more efficient to get these emails out. It has also had some transition issues. Some of you have received other emails from Virginia Organizing. We think we have corrected these problems but please email email@example.com if you are getting emails you do not want.
The Virginia Main Street Alliance has a webpage on the Virginia Organizing website. Past updates as well as a little background material is available at: http://www.virginia-organizing.org/category/issues/small-business
Debit swipe fees now cost American businesses over $16 billion a year, and exorbitant fees on debit transactions have a disproportionate impact on small businesses. Last year, Congress passed an amendment in the financial overhaul to rein in excessive swipe fees, but the rules set to go into effect in July are facing an all-out assault from big banks and card companies. Setting reasonable limits on swipe fees will give the small business sector a shot in the arm this summer and help businesses grow and create jobs. You can Sign a statement in support of swipe fee reform
The Virginia Small Business Development Centers are holding workshops for small businesses on a number of topics ranging from marketing to copyright laws. These workshops are located all over the state and at almost all times of the day. Go to www.virginiasbdc.org/events.aspx for more information.