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Health experts brief Northern Va. business leaders on ‘Obamacare’

photoABC7’s Scott Thuman, left, moderated a health care reform panel in Herndon Nov. 16 featuring, from right, state Secretary of Health and Human Resources William Hazel, Regional Director for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Joanne Corte Grossi and Director of the U.S. Small Business Administration Bridget Bean. Photo Courtesy/Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce

Cutting through the rhetoric and pinpointing what the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act means for businesses was the aim Nov. 16 of a Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce health care reform panel.

Themed “Health Care Reform: What Is Next and How It Will Impact Your Business,” the discussion of the act, commonly called Obamacare, featured regional experts William Hazel, Virginia’s secretary of Health and Human Resources, Bridget Bean, administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration and Joanne Corte Grossi, an Obama administration-appointed regional director for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The timely talk, coming just 10 days after President Barack Obama’s re-election, featured sometimes-contentious back-and-forth between Hazel and Corte Grossi.

Hazel, a member of Gov. Bob McDonnell’s cabinet, spent much of his speaking time questioning where the money would come from for the law’s mandate on expanded coverage.

Moreover, how are health insurance costs going to drop unless the cost of services is reduced, Hazel asked.

“Unless health care ultimately costs less, paying less for your insurance means somebody else is paying more,” Hazel said. ” ... There is nothing free in this.”

Corte Grossi had a different view. She said the whole point of the Affordable Care Act is to bend the cost curve by providing a larger pool of insured Americans. She pointed out the Congressional Budget Office estimates the nation will save $100 billion over the next decade.

“We’re really trying to make true systematic change to the system,” Corte Grossi said, noting the creation of programs within the Health and Human Services intended to spur innovation in the health and wellness industry.

Corte Grossi said nothing will change for small businesses until 2014, when businesses with 50 employees or more will be mandated to provide coverage.

For 2013, the law primarily affects state governments, Corte Grossi said.

When state health insurance exchanges – competitive marketplaces where either individuals or businesses can purchase insurance – are implemented, the average family will save more than $2,000 per year on their insurance plan.

Through Obamacare, states have the option to either establish their own exchanges or defer to the federal government or form a state-federal partnership.

Bean offered another perspective. Businesses need to be encouraging healthy lifestyles for their employees – partnering with local gyms, wellness initiatives at work, making sure employees aren’t smoking.

Corte Grossi agreed, saying that healthy lifestyles alone will save billions nationwide in health care costs. Obesity and smoking-related health problems cost the health care system more than $300 billion per year, she said.

Obamacare also pushes for an expansion of Medicaid, with an estimated 425,000 additional Virginians qualifying for the state-run health program.

Hazel expressed doubt the state would be able to fund the expansion and Obamacare mandates, but Corte Grossi was quick to note the federal government will pay 100 percent of the cost for the first three years and 90 percent of the bill from 2020 on.

As for whether Virginia will set up its own health care exchange or leave it in the hands of the federal government, or strike a hybrid partnership, Hazel didn’t have a clear answer.

Bean, the U.S. Small Business Administration director, said her organization will hold a series of educational programs for small businesses in the year ahead to help them prepare and keep up to speed on the new laws.

“[Obama] may not be perfect,” Bean said, “but if we don’t start doing this now, we’ll be worse than we are today. And it is a place to start with specific guidelines, and again, to help small businesses, families and individuals have access to affordable health care.”


Let’s see now…

Obama promised his healthcare plan would cost less than $1 trillion over ten years and would reduce the deficit in the long run.

The CBO estimates it will cost $1.8 trillion through 2022 and add $823 billion to the deficit.

The most recent report from the Dept. of Health and Human Services estimates that future premiums will rise at 7.9% annually, double the rate they would have risen had this not been passed.

In addition, nearly 20 million American will still be uninsured after the bill is fully implemented.  Millions more will be dumped into Medicaid.

What a deal!  Nice way to bend that cost curve.

At least someone quoted in the article admits “[Obama] MAY not be perfect.”

Jeanne T posts an opinion peace from the NY post like it is factual. What a load of garbage in that article.

Since Obamacare started taking effect the yearly inflation on medical insurance has dropped from 10% on average with years going up 13% (03 and 04); to just 4% inflation in 10 and 11. Looks like its cost cutting measures are working.

SkidRow - If they are already paying for insurance then nothing in Obama care effects them. Obamacare only effects big companies not giving people benefits. Also that is $2000 per employee not a one time fee for all of them. BTW you go that route a government controlled health care system will become reality. Maybe that’s the plan, who knows?

Jehovah Jireh - The good news is your first 30 employees and part time people don’t count, you need 80 full time people to get caught up in the system.

I’m not sure how you people can continue to make up stuff about the law.  Please read it before commenting.  Secondly, please accept the fact that Obama was relected and start to look for ways to improve the system instead of listening to people like Hazel who hate the fact that Obama is still president.


“If you get your health insurance through a job, you might lose it as of Jan. 1, 2014. That’s when the new “employer mandate” kicks in, requiring employers with 50 or more full-time workers to provide the government-designed health plan or pay a fine. The government plan is so expensive, it adds $1.79 per hour to the cost of a full-time employee. That’s incidental if you’re hiring neurosurgeons but a hefty increase for hiring busboys and sales clerks.

“Currently, employers in retail and fast-food industries pay less than half that to cover their workers.To avoid thecostly mandate,some employers will push workers into part-time status. Other employers will opt for the fine. Either way, workers lose their on-the-job coverage.

“Worse, they risklosingtheir jobs.Even the fine adds 98 cents an hour to the cost of labor, enough to make some employers cut back on their workforce.

“As many as a third of employers are considering canceling coverage, according to McKinsey & Co. management consultants. But that doesn’t mean you’ll be uninsured; you won’t have that choice.

“When you file your taxes, you will have to show proof that you are enrolled in the one-size-fits-all plan approved by the federal government. It’s mandatory, starting Jan. 1, 2014, or the IRS will withhold your refund. If you’ve been going without insurance, or your employer drops coverage, your options will be enrolling in Medicaid (if you’re eligible) or buying a government-approved health plan on your state health exchange.

“What’s an insurance exchange? It’s like a supermarket that only sells cereal. The exchange will sell only the government-designed plan. In most states, exchanges will be an 800 number, a Web site and a government office, like the DMV. People with household incomes up to $92,200 will be eligible for a subsidy.

“If you’re a senior or a baby boomer, expect less care than in the past. Cuts to future Medicare funding pay for more than half the Obama health law. Hospitals, for example, will have $247 billion less to care for same number of seniors than if the law had not passed. Hospitals will spread nurses thinner. California nurses already are striking over the increased workloads.

“When Medicare cuts led hospitals to reduce nursing care in the past, elderly patients had a lower chance of surviving their stay and death rates from heart attacks rose, according to a report last year by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

“For the first time in history, the federal government will control how doctors treat privately insured patients. Section 1311 of the law empowers the Secretary of Health and Human Services to standardize what doctors do. Even if you have a private plan from Cigna or Aetna and you paid for it yourself, the federal government will have some say over your doctors’ decisions, with an eye toward reducing health-care consumption.

“If you sell your house and make a profit, you’ll likely be paying a new 3.8 percent tax on the gain. The law includes about half a trillion dollars in tax hikes, including a new 3.8 percent tax on gains from selling any asset, including your home, small business, stocks or bonds, effective Jan. 1, 2013. That’s on top of capital-gains taxes and applies to any profit that pushes your income over $200,000.”

My company hovers at 50 employees.  We will now be forced to keep the number under 50 so we are not subject to this draconian law to provide sub-standard health care.  Even worse, there is NO way ObamaCare is mathematically feasible.  How can the government fund 100% of the cost when we’re already in debt up to our eyeballs? 

The so-called “state exchanges” will be a joke.  They won’t be able to compete with the “free” price tag of ObamaCare.  So more and more people will opt for ObamaCare and soon the federal government will have a monopoly on America’s heath care.  Be prepared for Loudoun Hospital to resemble the DMV in the not-so-distant future.  But hey, didn’t we just vote to make ourselves a third-world nation on November 6th?  So we’re getting exactly what we deserve.

And our health care spending accounts went from $5000 per year to $2500. Yeah, great deal. I we were just taxed $2500/year and 2013 hasn’t even started.

If you run a business, here is a summary.  End your employer health care subsidy and tell employees to fend for themselves with ObamaCare. The fine is $2,000, but that is cheaper than what most employers are paying now.  Obviously ObamaCare was a gift to businesses in being able to unload the healthcare costs onto the Government.

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