Healthcare: What You Need to Know Halfway Through Session
The committee process is now winding down at the halfway mark to the legislature’s adjournment on May 7, so it’s a good time to take a look at which healthcare issues will be the most pressing for the remainder of this session.
Small Businesses and the Affordable Care Act
SB 479 would have caused confusion and administrative problems for Connecticut’s small businesses. That’s because as originally written, it would have changed the definition of “small employer,” which is used to determine whether a business is in the small- or large-group health insurance market.
But the Insurance Committee took bipartisan action to strike the change from the bill so that the definition remains unmodified on the state level. CBIA appreciates the work of the committee to avoiding another burden on Connecticut’s small businesses.
Still, more must be done to make sure the federal definition does not preempt state law. We will continue to work with the Insurance Committee and the department to seek a waiver from the federal provision so that Connecticut’s smaller employers do not face additional administrative and budgetary challenges.
The proposed state budget revisions include a tax of more than $3 million on self- insured employers and insurance carriers to pay for the State Innovation Model (SIM) initiative (SB 21). While CBIA supports the overall goals of SIM–increasing healthcare quality and reducing costs–the new fee is troubling because it actually increases the cost of health insurance in Connecticut.
Employers already face many fees under federal and state healthcare laws and this will add to their financial burden. For example, it’s likely insurers will pass the cost of the new fee onto small employers in the form of higher health insurance premiums–exacerbating the problem of ever-increasing healthcare costs in Connecticut.
The Insurance Committee has approved a number of health benefit mandates that will drive up the cost of healthcare for small business. New health benefit mandates increase the amount fully insured employers (that are typically smaller businesses) and individuals pay for their health insurance. This is because each mandate is a new service or procedure that state law requires insurers to include in their policies.
In addition, this year the state will have to foot the bill for all new mandates because the federal government will only pay for mandates included in the existing Essential Health Benefits package, and that package can’t be reopened until 2016.
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