Elections will be on Tuesday, November 4. A new law requires every voter in Virginia to have a photo ID. A Virginia Driver’s License is an acceptable form of ID. An employer issued photo ID will also be acceptable if it is issued “in the normal course of business.” Most importantly, each local election office will provide a photo ID to registered voters that do not have another valid ID and it looks like you can get this ID on election day when you go to vote. More information is available at http://sbe.virginia.gov/
Open Enrollment of the Health Insurance Marketplace will begin on November 15 and last until February 15. Open enrollment allows new people to sign up for health insurance on the Health insurance Marketplace. It also allows people who have a plan to change to another option. Go to https://www.healthcare.gov/ to sign up or to change plans.
The special section of the Health Insurance Marketplace for small businesses should be running when open enrollment begins on November 15. This section, called the SHOP, is being tested in six states right now. The SHOP will provide small businesses access to effective small group insurance plans. Just like for individuals, small business will benefit from greater buying power. In fact, the Washington Post is reporting on a study that found SHOP rates were seven percent lower than rates in the existing markets. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/on-small-business/study-shows-obamacares-small-business-exchanges-do-offer-cheaper-coverage/2014/09/24/8a79db7e-4409-11e4-b437-1a7368204804_story.html) Small businesses will also be able to take advantage of the tax credit for purchasing health insurance on the SHOP.
In case you missed it, the Virginia House of Delegates debated the critical issue of Medicaid expansion for “well over an hour” on September 18. They then voted down the only plan (offered by a Republican) to expand Medicaid.
The Washington Post is reporting a Gallup Poll a few months ago that found the percentage of Americans without health insurance just hit the lowest level since 2008, 15.6 percent See: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2014/04/07/percentage-of-uninsured-americans-hits-lowest-point-since-2008/
A study by the Virginia Hospital Association found that Medicaid expansion will cover close to 400,000 Virginians and create about 30,000 new jobs. The study also found that the cost to Virginia of expanding Medicaid was actually less than the cost of not expanding it.
The Washington Post is reporting a study that found that employer health benefit costs increased last year at the lowest level since 1999 (http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/on-small-business/companies-health-costs-are-increasing-at-a-slower-clip-question-is-will-that-continue/2014/09/21/4eb917fc-4031-11e4-b0ea-8141703bbf6f_story.html)
The Governor has ordered more state contracts to be awarded to small and minority-owned businesses. The state will now award 42 percent of state contracts to small and minority-owned firms. The Governor is also creating a new “microbusiness” category of firms with 25 or fewer employees in order to increase the share of state contracts awarded to small businesses.