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Daily Archive for January 25 2011

Health Care Reform a Work in Progress, Cline Tells Business Leaders

Since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (otherwise called the “Affordable Care Act” or “healthcare reform bill”) was signed in to law in March of 2010, businesses across the country have been wondering how this legislation would impact their organizations.

To learn more  the new rules and what they mean for West Virginia,  the Charleston Area Alliance and Dixon Hughes presented “Health Care Reform and Small Business:  Just the Facts,” featuring West Virginia Insurance Commissioner Jane Cline on Jan. 20.  The event was the inaugural SUCCESStrategies program, a new educational partnership between the Alliance and Dixon Hughes.

Cline brought both national perspective and local expertise to the discussion.  She is not only responsible for overseeing  regulation of the state’s insurance market, but also serves as President of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, an organization with a significant voice in the implementation of this reform.

Before a sold-out crowd of regional business leaders in the Alliance boardroom, Cline provided an update on provisions of the Affordable Care Act that went into effect on Jan.1 of this year (including ban on lifetime limits on insurance coverage, elimination of pre-existing condition exclusions for children and the ability to include children up to age 26 on family policies), as well certain requirements that will become law in 2014.

West Virginia is already leading the nation on implementation of one of the most significant provisions of the law – health care exchanges – mandated for each state by 2014.  Health insurance exchanges are marketplaces where small businesses and individuals without government or employer sponsored health coverage can shop for insurance options. Insurance exchanges could lead to greater access and cost control, but as with most aspects of this complex legislation, the devil will be in the details.

Cline urged businesses to engage with her office to learn which parts of the legislation apply to their organization, and how they can best prepare.  “We’re asking West Virginia businesses to work with us in this discussion because your input is valuable,” she said.

Another provision of the Affordable Care Act, tax credits for small businesses that provide health care insurance to employees, go into effect this year.   Sandy Thomas of Dixon Hughes reported that qualifying businesses can receive a credit of up to 35 percent of their health insurance costs, but cautioned that  that law is most beneficial to small businesses with lower paid employees.

“We are not here today to say this should – or shouldn’t–  be the law,” noted Alliance Chairman Pat Bond. “We’re here today to learn what it means for West Virginia businesses and how we can prepare.”

“Regardless of your thoughts surrounding the merits of reform, we all need to stay diligent and informed as the legislation unfolds. As such, I know I speak for everyone at Dixon Hughes when I say that we are proud to sponsor the SUCCESStrategies program and bring these important conversations to the forefront,” said Rick Slater, the firm’s managing member.

To provide input or get additional information on health care exchanges in West Virginia, contact Jeremiah Samples in Office of the Insurance Commissioner at:  Jeremiah.samples@wvinsurance.govFor more information on small business health insurance tax credits, contact your tax professional or Rebecca Isaacs at Dixon Hughes:  risaacs@dixon-hughes.com; (304) 414-2658.

For more information and additional perspectives on health care reform, go to:

West Virginia Office of the Insurance Commissioner

National Association of Insurance Commissioners

West Virginia Chamber of Commerce

West Virginians for Affordable Health Care

SAVE THE DATE:  The next SUCCESStrategies program, focusing on important state and local tax updates, will be held Wednesday, March 9.  Please share your suggestions on other program topics and speakers for SUCCESStrategies and other Alliance educational programming by completing a short survey:http://www.zoomerang.com/Survey/WEB22BQXAGKJAU

Your feedback will help us continue to present quality events that benefit your bottom line.

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