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"Health Care Reform - Challenges for Employers" by Richard Lord

Associated Industries of Massachusetts has been conducting briefings across the state in conjunction with the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority to inform employers about their new responsibilities under the Massachusetts Health Care Reform Law. We have completed seven briefings so far and will be traveling to Pittsfield and Cape Cod in the next few weeks.

Complying with all of the requirements of the new law is definitely a challenge for employers, particularly those with a significant number of non-traditional employees, e.g., seasonal, part-time and temporary workers.

Between now and July 1, 2007 all employers with 11 or more employees must set up a Section 125 plan for virtually all of their employees, even those not eligible for their employer’s sponsored coverage, enabling them to set aside pre-tax dollars. They must comply with a new provision of the law, which does not allow differential premium contributions for higher compensated individuals. They must inform their employees that dependents can now be covered for an additional two years up until the age of 26. They should review their health plan specifications to determine whether their plan meets the new “minimum creditable coverage” standards adopted by the Connector board last week. And they must be prepared to answer employees’ questions about the individual mandate – not a legal responsibility, but an inevitable one.

For the most part, the employers who have attended our briefings are looking for guidance to ensure that they are in compliance with the new law. The Connector and several state agencies share responsibility for implementing various components of the law that affect employers. As we move forward, it is incumbent on these parties to ensure that there be clear and consistent outreach to the business community and that enforcement is fair and equitable. Doing business in Massachusetts is already a challenge with our high business costs and strict regulatory environment – health care reform should not contribute to this burden.

Richard C. Lord
President and CEO
Associated Industries of Massachusetts
Member, Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority

This program aired on March 30, 2007. The audio for this program is not available.

Martha Bebinger Twitter Reporter
Martha Bebinger covers health care and other general assignments for WBUR.

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