When Congress passed health care reform last year they built in a couple years of implementation. The new law will not be fully in effect until January of 2014. At that time the new health insurance exchanges will start operating. See http://www.kff.org/
A Health Benefit Exchange is a government established pool that allows small businesses (and individuals) to join together to shop for better insurance coverage. Under federal health care reform the exchange must be operational by 2014. The Exchange will be voluntary but it should provide small business with a way to buy health insurance at least a little cheaper. The Commonwealth Institute has a good background piece on the Health Benefits Exchange. It is available at http://
Massachusetts has already set up a health benefits exchange called the Mass Connector. The website is https://www.mahealthconnector.
According to the Better Choices Coalition, between the start of the recession and FY2012, state funding for local fire fighters, police, corrections officers, and sheriff’s departments has been cut 35 percent. See http://betterchoicesva.org/ for more details.
As of October 1 there are new limits on debt card swipe fees. The new limit is 26 cents per swipe. The national MSA was very active in this fight. See http://mainstreetalliance.org/ for more information.
The national Main Street Alliance is asking businesses to sign onto a statement about corporate money in politics. The statement is at http://mainstreetalliance.org/
The Hampton Roads Health Care Coalition will be hosting a breakfast for small businesses to learn more about health care reform. The breakfast will be from 8:00-9:00 am on Thursday, November 10, in downtown Norfolk near the Wisconsin. The Virginia Main Street Alliance will be making the presentation at the breakfast. There is no cost but due to limited space only the first 40 registrants will be admitted. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to attend.
The Virginia Health Reform Initiative put off making a recommendation about whether a one person business will be allowed to purchase group rate insurance. This decision will now be made by the legislature early next year.
One additional option that the state has on healthcare reform is to enforce a standard that requires health insurance companies to spend at least 80% of the money they collect in premiums on health care itself. In the VMSA survey of small businesses 77% support this option. An interim version of the survey is available at http://www.virginia–
The federal government is now providing a website where anyone can see information about specific health insurance rate increases, including the size of the increase and even how much is related to specific medical issues. Click on http://companyprofiles.
Part of the president’s job bill includes a payroll tax cut for most small businesses. A factsheet on the impacts of the job bill in Virginia is available at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/
This fall the entire Virginia General Assembly is up for election. The last day to register to vote is October 17 and election day is November 8.
This update is a service of the Virginia Main Street Alliance.