Category Archives: Health Care

Opiod abuse and workers’ comp

Human Resource Executive Online recently published an article highlighting a study showing little drop in workers’ comp related opiod abuse. Often prescribed by doctors for pain after an injury, long-term use can lead to addiction and result in a worker needing extended leave in addition to other medical problems.

According to the article, a new study — Longer-Term Use of Opioids, 2nd Edition — from the Workers Compensation Research Institute finds that, “so far, there appears to have been minimal reduction in the prevalence of longer-term opioid use in the 25 states that were studied.”

According to Lev Ginsburg, The Business Council’s director of government affairs, the business community has warned lawmakers that policies in the workers’ compensation system, and the health system in general, were leading to opioid addiction and other long-term health detriments among employees.

While programs like I-STOP in New York have worked to combat opioid abuse, an unforeseen consequence is that the use of heroin, which is cheaper and more readily available, has risen.

Ginsburg says, “Negative outcomes can result from some health policies. There is little debate that insurance mandates lead to the overuse of healthcare and lead to ballooning costs, but also, sometimes to unhealthy results.”

Final New York state budget needs to grow jobs and economy

As the Governor and New York State Legislature progress in final budget negotiations, The Business Council of New York State, Inc. is calling for a final state budget that boost jobs and New York’s economy.

“Job creation and economic growth are key to building strong communities in New York,” said Heather C. Briccetti, Esq., president and CEO of The Business Council of New York State, Inc. “Continuing to restrain spending, implementing broad-based tax reform and mandate relief need to be a priority for a final state budget.”

The Council also debuted a new ad, “Help New York’s economy grow,” focusing on how tax cuts will help improve New York’s economy. Watch the ad below.

[youtube height=”HEIGHT” width=”WIDTH”]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K5XYdVo6UeQ&feature=youtu.be[/youtube]

Business Council Vice President of Government Affairs Ken Pokalsky’s letter to the editor was published in the Albany Times Union. Read his letter that outlines how increasing taxes won’t help create jobs in New York how tax cuts would help create a more competitive economic climate to generate good-paying jobs and healthier communities.

A study earlier this year by The Public Policy Institute of New York State, Inc. (PPI), “Analysis of Economic Impacts of New York Corporate Income Tax Reform,” showed that when the tax reforms are fully adopted, major business and employment sectors will grow including construction, trades and business service sectors, manufacturing, and financial services.

Among the other issues of concern to The Business Council in a final state budget: Paid Family Leave, Out-of-Network Mandates, Energy Tax, Campaign Finance Reform, Brownfields, and education and tourism funding. Read more on The Business Council’s website.

A closer look at health plan provider networks

Last week, The New York State Conference of Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans (NYSCOP) released an infographic titled, “A Closer Look at Health Plan Provider Networks,” which details the benefits and disadvantages of in-network and out-of-network health insurance coverage.

“Concerns related to affordable health care are being discussed by many families and small business owners across New York,” said Deborah Fasser, spokeswoman for NYSCOP. “One topic of particular concern is understanding your health plan’s doctor and hospital network.”

According to the NYSCOP analysis, when a provider is “in network” they agree to receive “payment in full” from the health plan; when a provider is not in a plan’s network, they are free to charge a consumer any amount they wish. This results in consumers paying more for coverage, and oftentimes not knowing the amount until care has already been provided.

Likewise, requiring plans to include an out-of-network benefit may not be in the best interest of the consumer as it will only increase costs.

“Required or “mandated” benefits always increase the cost of health insurance premiums,” said Fasser. “This is especially the case with out-of-network coverage. Forcing health plans to offer out-of-network benefits will increase health insurance premiums for all consumers by an estimated 28 percent. This is something the public should be aware of. ”

The Business Council continues to oppose health insurance mandates that drive up the cost of healthcare for all New Yorkers.  Ongoing efforts to mandate out-of-network coverage and payments would result in double-digit premium increases, a sever burden on employees and employers alike.

Hidden health insurance taxes

The New York State Conference of Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans (NYSCOP) released an infographic highlighting the taxes and fees driving up the cost of health insurance titled, “A Taxing Look at Hidden Health Insurance Taxes.”

According to recent NYSCOP estimates, New Yorkers with private health coverage paid approximately $4.8 billion in state health insurance taxes in 2013. With employers paying most of the private health insurance premiums, the state tax on private coverage is nothing more than a “hidden” business tax. Among all business taxes levied by the state, when totaled, the taxes imposed on the privately insured would rank as New York’s single highest business tax.

Adding to the state tax burden are a number of new federal health insurance taxes. Beginning this year, as a result of three new taxes included in the federal Affordable Care Act, New York’s businesses and families will be required to pay an additional $1.7 billion, bringing the total health insurance tax bill to more than $6.5 billion. In 2015, the federal tax burden will increase by another $100 million.

The three federal taxes and their estimated costs are:

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In addition, beginning in 2014 a risk adjustment user fee based on the number of enrollees will be levied. The annual cost of this fee is yet to be determined.  A federal excise tax (Cadillac tax) for high-cost employer-sponsored health coverage begins in 2018.

New York State’s small business owners already have 100 million reasons to be worried about next year’s increase in health insurance taxes. Now is not the time to add to their burden.

To view NYSCOP’s infographic, please click on the following link: http://bit.ly/1dU1lfz

Health care signups: More older Americans so far

A key component of health care reform is that younger, healthier enrollees will offset the cost of older, costlier enrollees yet an Associated Press article shows that then enrollment is low “for the healthy, younger Americans who will be needed to keep premiums from rising.”

More than 2 million Americans have signed up but only 24 percent are between the ages of 18 to 34. Adults ages 55-64 account for 33 percent of the total. Read more on the Associated Press website.

Senate hearing to explore Obamacare concerns

New York Senate Health Committee Chairman Kemp Hannon and  Senate  Insurance Committee Chairman James L. Seward today announced a joint hearing on the impact federal health care reform is having on insured individuals,  families,  and  small  businesses  has  been  rescheduled for Monday, January 13th.

New York State of Health Executive Director Donna Frescatore is scheduled to testify at the hearing along with consumers, representatives of the medical community, insurance companies, insurance brokers and agents, and small group insurance providers including Chambers of Commerce and the Freelancers Union.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Public Hearing –  New York State of Health
10:00 a.m.
Legislative Office Building, Hearing Room B, Albany.

A live webcast of the hearing will be available at:

http://www.nysenate.gov/event/2014/jan/13/new-york-state-health-discussion-implementation-0

 

 

Health care reform surprises some self-employed professionals

One provision of the Affordable Care (ACA), which took effect this year is surprising some New York City professionals and members of the City’s cultural elite such as writers, opera singers, music teachers, photographers, doctors, lawyers and others who purchased health insurance as sole proprietors through chambers of commerce and trade associations.

Prior to the advent of Obamacare, sole proprietors could join chambers of commerce and trade associations and purchase health insurance at rates slightly higher than small businesses would pay. The plans cost significantly less than coverage in New York state’s individual market.

New York Times reporter Anemona Hartocollis finds irony in the fact that many of those affected include some of President Obama strongest advocates for health care reform.

Health care cost transparency needed

Capital New York is reporting that state health commissioner Nirav Shah reacted to a New York Times story on the the high costs of minor services at hospitals by decrying “the lack of transparency in hospital pricing.”

At a health summit in New York City, Shah addressed the need for smarter healthcare spending and  promised the stat would soon reveal new plans to address the issue.

Shah’s stated commitment to cost transparency is welcome news as New York consumers have been at a distinct disadvantage in anticipating their health care costs.  Most consumers don’t learn of the costs of their health care until after care is completed and they receive bill.  As the cost of health care continues to rise, transparency is needed as a key component that would allow employers and employees tools to manage their costs.

Small businesses to be impacted by Health Care tax

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that small businesses may be impacted by an annual ‘fee’ imposed on health-insurance companies by the Affordable Care Act.  It is expected the fee will total as much as $8 billion next year and as much as $14.3 billion by 2018.

The Congressional Budget Office and industry experts say the expense will be passed on to small businesses and consumers who buy their own policies.

The new health-law tax is projected to raise premiums for small businesses by an average of 1.9% to 2.3% in 2014.

Read more on the Wall Street Journal website.

Possible ObamaCare tax exemption for unions

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the Obama administration may grant a waiver for some insurance plans from a tax that is supposed to capitalize a reinsurance fund.

According to the article, unions don’t like the reinsurance transfer because it means higher premiums. For 2014, the fee per person is $63.

The administration said, “We also intend to propose in future rulemaking to exempt certain self-insured, self-administered plans from the requirement to make reinsurance contributions for the 2015 and 2016 benefit years.”