A lot is on the line next month in the general election. For the state, one of the main costs for employers is that of health care. Depending on who is voted into office can have a big impact on the direction of the state’s new health benefit exchange and implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act.
That’s why it’s so important for businesses to vote legislators into office who keep the interests of business in mind when it comes to health care costs.
At Tuesday’s AWB Health Care Forum in Bellevue, which attracted more than 200 AWB members, a panel discussed employer’s role in health care reform. Panelists included: AWB VP, government affairs, Gary Chandler; Don Conant, general manager, Valley Nut & Bolt Company; Mike Bolander, VP of operations, Columbia Colstor, Inc.; and Paul Brown, benefits services manager, Brown and Brown Insurance.
Valley Nut & Bolt and Columbia Colstor pay for employee health care coverage. Both Conant and Bolander believe that when the exchange is implemented, employee insurance through the exchange will be the most cost effective for most of their employees. This is due to a tax credit for families of four that make less than $92,000 per year.
Unfortunately, the cost of funding the exchange will directly impact taxpayers at an estimated cost of $50 million per year. The ACA also places restrictions on the types of coverage available to small businesses, gives unprecedented authority to the insurance commissioner instead of the Legislature, and will impact large employer and group health plans.
“Many small employers are skeptical of the exchange and the changes it brings,” said Brown. “Washington state has some of the best association health plans in the country and we are in jeopardy of losing these.”
Chandler says the implementation of the exchange is going too fast and needs to be slowed down to look at all the costs involved. He believes that Congress will be going back to make some changes to the ACA. He also encouraged members to reach out to their legislators to express their concerns about health care costs and their impact on businesses.
“The only way we’re going to be able to change course is through the election,” said Chandler. “That’s why it’s so important for employers and employees to vote next month.”