As if you didn't already have enough on your plate this holiday season, the Senate goes ahead and passes their Health Care Reform Bill on Christmas Eve. Of course, the final bill has yet to be seen (or passed), but the implications for employers are far-reaching--and chances are, the first questions you're going to get from your VP of HR and CEO right after New Years. This is going to make the typical start-of-the-plan concerns seem like a piece of cake (ID cards out on time? Who's counting!?!?).
While we wish we had a crystal ball and could tell you just what is going to go down in DC early next year, we can at least offer up what the experts are saying:
Hewitt--U.S. Senate Passes Historic Health Care Reform Bill
The article contains a high level summary of some of the items contained in the new bill. Hewitt also has a bulletin that discusses the highlights of the reforms of the health insurance market, impact on employers, revenue-raisers and the impact on Medicare. A free teleconference series is being offered starting on January 7, 2010 to discuss health care reform in more detail.
Towers Perrin--The Stage is Now Set for a Joint House-Senate Conference Committee
Towers Perrin offers a point-by-point list of employer and employee-facing provisions in the new senate bill in their weekly column, “The Week in Health Care Reform.” There is an associated podcast with the article.
Deloitte--Health Care Reform Memo
Deloitte offers a summary of key features of the bill, broken down into sections based on
• Increased access to insurance
• Improved delivery system performance
• Reduced costs “bending the curve”
The memo also contains information on the funding of the bill, what is next in the process, an AMA endorsement and other facts and quotes related to the bill.
Employee Benefits Adviser--A mixed bag: Senate bill is improved, but flawed
An opinion piece, this article discusses the changes made to the Senate bill surrounding insurance brokers and advisers before it was able to pass. More details of the provisions surrounding brokers can be found on the EBA podcast, Broker specifics in the Senate reform bill. The featured speaker is Jessica Waltman of the National Association of Health Underwriters’.
BLR--Senate OKs Healthcare Overhaul with Employer Mandate
BLR provides a brief description of the employer mandate outlined in the new senate bill, including the penalty amounts and deadlines for non-compliance.
New York Times--Senate Passes Health Care Overhaul on Party-Line Vote
The article discusses the politics behind the bill, including the fact that no Republicans backed it. It goes on to discuss some of the issues surrounding the bill, such as funding and impact on Medicare, but in little detail. Lots of other resources on their website, including daily opinion posts.
Business Week--Senate Passes Measure to Overhaul Health-Care System
This article is divided into sections about the compromise needed to become law, the expanded coverage that would result from the bill, the impact on health stocks and the environment surrounding the bill.
A lot to digest and a lot to be determined. Feeling totally overwhelmed? Compare health reform to everything else that's happened in the last 10 years and you might feel just fine.
Editor's Note - Jennifer Benz is founder and chief strategist at Benz Communications, a boutique consulting firm that focuses on employee benefits communication. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @jenbenz.