Friday, July 22, 2011



The Gang of Six, a bipartisan group of senators challenged with trying to cut the deficit, has put the Class Act in its cross-hairs.  This act, in PPACA (Health Reform), was slated to set-up a government run Long-Term Health care Plan.  Some of the key elements of The Class Act include: 
  1. Average premium should be in the $150 per month range (less for youngers, more for olders)
  2. You must pay into the plan for 5 years before accessing any benefits
  3. You must be actively at work at least 3 out of 5 years
  4. Guaranteed Issue (Except for the limitations noted above)
  5. It is a voluntary plan primarily delivered through employers-employers are able to opt-out or opt-in.  If employers opt-in employees area able to opt-out on a case by case basis.
The Gang Of Six wants to repeal the program which in-turn would create $500 Billion in cuts from federal health care programs over the next ten years according to documents provided by the senators at a July 19th, 2011 meeting.

The Class Act has been under scrutiny because people would have to pay in for 5 years before ever being able to access benefits, mostly only the sick would apply, because it's guaranteed issue, creating adverse selection and it's seen as a way for the Federal Government to subsidize Medicaid, something we already pay for.    Also, according to Kent Conrad, (D-ND), Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, speaking on the sustainability of the Class Act stated "a ponzi scheme of the first order, the kind of thing that Bernie Madoff would have been proud of." 

"The Gang" is also considering major changes in the Tax-Code, Medicare and Social Security.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Free Money For Small Group Wellness Programs!! Maybe.....

If you are thinking of starting a Wellness Program for your small group (Under 100 Employees), there may be funding available for you.  Under PPACA (Health Reform) certain provision have been set-up to fund a five year $200 Billion grant program.  However, with the nations check-book getting a little light, who knows if and when there will be funding available and to what extent. 

Starting with the next fiscal year (October 1, 2011), the PPACA authorizes an appropriation of $200 million over five years (fiscal years 2011 through 2015) for certain small businesses that implement wellness programs.[Section 1201 of H.R. 3590, adding section 2705 to PHSA]
  • A five-year/$200 billion grant program will be available to small employers (less than 100 employees working 25 hours per week) that did not provide a wellness program as of March 23, 2010.  The grants are intended to apply to "comprehensive" wellness programs that include the following components:
  • Health awareness initiatives (including health education, preventive screenings and HRA(Health Risk Assessment)
  • Efforts to maximize employee engagement (including mechanisms to encourage employee participation).
  • Initiatives to change unhealthy behaviors and lifestyle choices (including counseling, seminars, online programs and self-help materials).
  • Supportive environment efforts (including workplace policies to encourage healthy lifestyles, healthy eating, increased physical activity and improved mental health). 
  • It is expected that regulations will be issued to clarify various aspects of the program, such as the criteria for a qualifying wellness program, how to apply for a grant, etc.
Grant application
Eligible employers seeking to participate in the grant program must submit an application to the Secretary of HHS that contains a proposal for a comprehensive workplace wellness program meeting the criteria and requirements listed above.  However, the PPACA fails to indicate whether grants will cover part or all of the cost of a qualifying wellness program. It is anticipated that HHS will issue guidance on the grant application and other details surrounding workplace wellness programs prior to October 2011.

Friday, July 1, 2011

McKinsey Report: Act II

This whole McKinsey report thing has been a mess, and a lot of publicity for McKinsey.  The McKinsey Report was a survey of more than 1,000 employer groups and found that approximately 30% would "definitely" or "probably stop offering employer sponsored health coverage to their employees because it could be less costly to send the employees to the exchange and pay a penalty, if any.  

The White House is still pushing McKinsey to release more information on the findings since the outcome of the McKinsey Report was so different from that of the Congressional Budget Office, RAND or Urban Institutes findings. 

McKinsey commissioned IPSOS, the third largest market and research firm in the world to conduct the survey.  The survey was comprised using employer groups ranging from less that 20 employees to more than 10,000 and from a pool of hundreds of thousands of people in IPSOS databases. 

There are many surveys and some will have countering views.  However, if I am an employer and paying $10,000 a year for my employees health care and they can go to an exchange and get it cheaper while I pay a $2000 penalty, I may just do that.  And so may many other employers.  However, many won't because they may believe that keeping their coverage intact, keeps them more competitive. 

I guess time will tell and we will see what happens in 2014.  Cause if you can't keep the plan you have, as the President promised, it may be big pill to swallow for many people.