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Health-Insurance Costs Remain Concern for Employers

Posted by Karen Choi on Mar 28, 2016 2:58:15 PM

Massachusetts employers have apparently decided that increasing deductibles and co-pays is a better way to control health-insurance costs than providing financial incentives for employees to seek care from low-cost, high-quality doctors.

2016_AIM_Benefits_Report_Cover.thm.pngThe 2016 AIM Benefits Report from Associated Industries of Massachusetts finds that controlling the cost of providing health insurance for employees remains the dominant benefits concern for Bay State companies. Ninety-four percent of the 197 employers who participated in the survey remain “very concerned” about escalating health insurance costs, while 76 percent are concerned about increased employee cost-sharing for benefits.

Employers are addressing those escalating health insurance costs by adopting high-deductible, consumer-driven health plans. Half of survey participants offer a consumer-driven health plan, with the most common cost-containment strategies being increased deductibles (28 percent), increased employee premiums (26 percent) and increased out-of-pocket maximums (21 percent).

There is far less enthusiasm for tiered networks, which health-care economists tout as an effective method of managing costs by paying more for medical care rendered in lower-cost settings and less for care delivered in high-cost academic medical centers. Just nine percent of survey participants offer a tiered network plan, even though a third of those companies have experienced a decrease in premiums.

Seventy-one percent of companies say they have no plans to offer a tiered network product in the future. Companies that have declined to adopt tiered networks most often cite not wanting to change the levels of benefits for employees as the reason.

“The survey seems to illustrate the ‘hallway effect,' ” said Russ Sullivan, Vice President of Health-Care Solutions at AIM.

“It is difficult to potentially disrupt the health-care choices or increase out-of-pocket costs of someone with significant medical expenses who you see each day.  Incremental changes to payroll contributions and co-pays are a more comfortable decision.”

Other structural changes face similar resistance. More than three-quarters of employers do not use health risk assessments to identify opportunities to improve the health of workers.

The share of employers who say they are “very concerned” about establishing a wellness program dropped to 31 from 37 percent in 2014 and 40 percent in 2012. Almost two-thirds of employers with 200 or fewer employees eligible for the Massachusetts Wellness Tax Credit said they did not know about the program.

Management of health-insurance costs will take on renewed significance for employers in 2016 as premium inflation in Massachusetts accelerates after several years of muted growth. Health insurance rates paid by small employers and individuals in Massachusetts surged 6.3 percent during the first quarter while major insurance companies are raising overall average premium rates anywhere from 3 to 13 percent. 

The AIM Benefits Survey found that the average premium for coverage through a health maintenance organization (HMO) rose 9 percent this year versus 7 percent in 2014. Premiums at preferred provider organizations (PPO) will also increase 9 percent in 2016, up from 6 percent two years ago, while rate increases for high-deductible plans have almost doubled from 2014 to now.

Insurance carriers attribute the premium increases to increases in drug costs, increased levels of plan utilization and costs associated with the implementation of federal health-care reform.

The average cost to provide health insurance to a family ranges from $1,011 per month for a high-deductible plan to $1,494 per month for an HMO, according to the AIM survey. Employers, on average, pay anywhere from $607 to $986 of those premiums depending on the insurance product.

The trend toward increased deductibles and co-pays is national. Research by the Kaiser Family Foundation indicates that deductibles for all workers have risen almost three times as fast as premiums and about seven times as fast as wages and inflation since 2010.

Other highlights of the survey include:

  • 87% of employers offer short-term disability benefits;
  • 93% of employers offer life insurance benefits;
  • 13% of survey participants still offer a defined-benefit pension plan, through 14 percent of those companies have closed to new participants;
  • Two-thirds of employees, on average, participate in their company’s 401(k) plan;
  • 58% of employers offer a paid time-off bank; and
  • 80% of employers with a work force outside of Massachusetts plan to offer the same earned sick-time benefits required for employees who work a majority of the time in state.

Purchase the 2016/2017 AIM Benefits Report

Topics: Health Care Costs, Health Insurance, Benefits

Infographic: The Rising Cost of Health Care

Posted by Katie Holahan on Dec 17, 2015 1:27:03 PM

The Massachusetts Health Policy Commission this week released its 2015 Cost Trends Report examining the cost of health care and health insurance in the commonwealth. Per-person spending on health care grew at less than the 3.6 percent overall economic growth rate, though overall spending grew at 4.8 percent. The bottom line is that health care spending continues to divert precious resources from employers, families and state government.

Graphics are courtesy of the Health Policy Commission.

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Topics: Health Care Costs, Health Care, Benefits

Are Wellness Programs Legal or Not?

Posted by Russ Sullivan on Dec 16, 2014 2:54:00 PM

Many employers have made wellness plans the centerpiece of their efforts to control the spiraling costs of employee health insurance.

StethescopeWellness programs use tools such as annual personal health assessments (PHA) and biometric screenings to identify employee health issues, establish baselines and develop plans to improve employee health. 

Many employers provide incentives to employees who participate.  These incentives range from cash awards to decreased employee contributions to premiums to employer contributions to HRAs (healthcare reimbursement accounts). Companies frequently extend these programs to employee spouses as well. 

Initial data on wellness programs are promising. Johnson & Johnson estimates that wellness programs have cumulatively saved the company $250 million on health care costs over the past decade. And a study by Towers Watson and the National Business Group on Health shows that organizations with highly effective wellness programs report significantly lower voluntary attrition than do those whose programs have low effectiveness (9 percent vs. 15 percent). 

Sounds great, right?

Not so fast says the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  The Chicago branch of the federal agency has taken several companies to task for their wellness programs.  According to the EEOC, these programs violate a provision in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that prohibits employers from requiring medical examinations or making disability-related inquiries of an employee, unless the examination or inquiry is job-related and consistent with business necessity. 

The EEOC’s position directly contradicts Affordable Care Act guidelines for establishing wellness incentives.  The ACA sets forth detailed guidance for health contingent wellness plans and incentives based on either participating in activities related to improving identified health factors or achieving certain goals also based on identified health factors. It even allows employers to provide incentives equal to 30 percent of the individual annual insurance premium (50 percent for tobacco-related incentives).

Here in Massachusetts, the employer wellness tax credit requires some type of evidence-based wellness program.  A common way for employers to gain this evidence is through PHAs or biometric screenings.

Despite the ACA’s guidelines, the EEOC has brought legal action against three employers over wellness programs:

  • In EEOC v. Flambeau, Inc., the employer’s wellness program gave employees the choice of taking a biometric screening or paying 100 percent of the health-insurance premium.  Employees who took the screening only had to pay 25 percent of the premium.  One employee who was on leave at the time the screenings were administered was not allowed to take screening upon return and had to pay 100 percent of the premium.
  • In EEOC v. Orion Energy Systems, employees could either complete the PHA and biometric screening or pay full premium.  One employee was terminated for not completing PHA and taking biometric screening. 
  • The third case, EEOC v. Honeywell, focuses on what the EEOC has characterized as surcharges for failing to take biometric screenings.  These surcharges include an annual $500 additional premium cost, a loss of $1,500 in employer contributions to the HRA and another $1,500 premium surcharge for using tobacco products.  The employer took the position that absent a biometric screening, employees were assumed to be smokers.

All three cases are currently pending in the courts.

The EEOC defines a "disability-related inquiry" as a question (or series of questions) that is likely to elicit information about a disability. The agency also defines a "medical examination" to include procedures or tests that seek information about an individual's physical or mental health or impairments, such as vision tests, genetic tests, blood pressure screening and cholesterol testing. The questions asked on a PHA and the information derived from a  biometric screening would likely fall within these definitions. 

However, the ADA allows voluntary medical exams and disability-related inquiries that are part of an employee health program.  In these instances, an employer does not have to show that the questions are job-related and consistent with business necessity. Unfortunately, neither the ADA nor its associated regulations define what is “voluntary."

So where does this leave employer wellness programs?  A few practical points might assist in keeping these programs working for the benefit of employers and employees: 

  • Remain committed to wellness as part of your health insurance strategy.
  • Do not discipline employees for not participating in the program.
  • Provide make up opportunities for employees who miss a screening deadlines.
  • Start small – the larger the incentive, the more likely it will be viewed as punitive and the program as less voluntary.

Meanwhile, AIM will monitor these and other any other cases and keep you updated on any developments

Topics: Health Care Reform, Health Care Costs, Benefits

Health Spending Comes in Under Benchmark; Employers Wary as Premiums Level Off

Posted by Christopher Geehern on Sep 2, 2014 2:16:00 PM

First, the good news – spending on health care in Massachusetts increased a modest 2.3 percent during 2013, well below the 3.6 percent objective set in the 2012 health-care cost control law. Health insurance premiums, adjusted for inflation, declined during the year, while benefit levels remained virtually unchanged.

20-Price-of-pills.smallNow, the bad news – The increase in medical spending exceeded the 1.5 percent rate of inflation as Massachusetts patients spent $50.5 billion - that's $7,550 per person – on medical care last year. Massachusetts employers, meanwhile still pay the highest health-insurance premiums in the country.

The release this morning of the first comprehensive study of medical cost trends in Massachusetts is a riddle for employers struggling with the high cost of providing insurance to workers.

The fact that medical spending increases came in well below the overall rate of economic growth is a “win” for the economy, confirming AIM’s long-held positon that the benchmark should have been set lower – two percentage points below gross state product. At the same time, the easing of health spending and premium costs largely reflects a national trend that is unlikely to last as employers face rate increases from federal health reform in 2014.

Rick Lord, president of Associated Industries of Massachusetts, told radio station WBUR this morning that members continue to rate health care costs as their top concern.

“That’s not a big surprise,” Lord says, “because even though we came off a year where increases were pretty modest, “we also know that health care costs on a per-capita basis are the highest in the country, so that puts [employers in Massachusetts] at a competitive disadvantage.”

Individuals and small employers saw the largest increase in health-insurance premiums between 2012 and 2013, according to the Center for Health Information and Analysis (CHIA). Premiums for small groups of between one and 50 enrollees rose 0.4 percent, while those for mid-size groups of 51 to 100 enrollees jumped 0.5 percent.

Groups with 101-499 enrollees saw a 0.2 percent decrease and those with more than 500 enrollees saw rates drop 0.8 percent.

The CHIA report finds that almost two-thirds of all medical spending in Massachusetts comes through public programs such as Medicare and MassHealth. Those public programs are posting much faster spending growth than the private sector - commercially insured medical spending grew by 2.2 percent in 2013, while spending through Medicare rose 3.1 percent and MassHealth spending jumped 4.7 percent.

Massachusetts employers paid an average of three-quarters of total premiums in 2013, with employees footing the remaining 26 percent. Cost-sharing for medical care was unchanged between 2012 and 2013 at an average of $48 per member per month.

Employers also continue to migrate toward self-insured plans, under which an insurer provides administrative services but the employer holds the insurance risk for the coverage. Approximately 58 percent of Massachusetts members enrolled in commercial coverage were enrolled in self-insured coverage during 2013, an increase of one percentage point over the previous year.

The lull in premium increases during 2013 may have been the eye of the storm for small businesses, some of which encountered premium increases of more than 50 percent this year because of rating changes required by the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The ACA limits to four the rating factors used to calculate small group health insurance premiums, while current Massachusetts law allows for additional consideration of factors such as industry, participation rate, group size, intermediary discount and group purchasing cooperatives.

A study by health insurance companies indicates that the rating changes have raised or lowered rates for small companies by up to 57 percent, on top of average increases of 3.7 percent in their base insurance premiums.

A separate survey by AIM found that 60 percent of small employers who renewed their health insurance policies on January 1 saw increased premiums. Among the employers who said they would consider making changes to their health plans as a result of the increases, 20 percent told AIM they plan to drop coverage all together because the price hikes are unaffordable.  As one member said, “We have not had a pay increase in 12 years and an 18 percent increase in our insurance is deplorable.”

The most optimistic employers might look at the good news in the CHIA report and agree with G.K. Chesterton that “progress is a comparative of which we have not settled the superlative.” Most employers, however, will want to see a lot more progress on Massachusetts most-expensive-in-the-nation health costs before throwing around any superlatives.

Topics: Health Care Reform, Health Care Costs, Benefits

AIM Report: Projected Raises Finally Top Levels Prior to Recession

Posted by Karen Choi on Jan 21, 2014 8:48:00 AM

Massachusetts employers plan to increase wages and salaries by an average of 2.96 percent during 2014 as pay raises finally surpass the levels that were in place prior to the Great Recession, according to the AIM Human Resource Practices Report released today.

2014 HR PracticesThe projected raises for this year continue a trend that has seen salary growth climb from a low of 1.7 percent in 2009 to 2.1 percent in 2010, 2.4 percent in 2011, 2.55 percent in 2012 and 2.8 percent last year. The prospect of employers offering fatter pay envelopes to recruit and retain talent comes despite the fact that the Massachusetts unemployment rate rose from 6.4 to 7.2 percent between April and November.

The HR Practices Report indicates that Massachusetts employers appear to be on the same compensation page as their colleagues around the United States. National surveys from World at Work, Mercer and Hay forecast 2014 salary increases of 3 percent across industry sectors, while the Economic Research Institute forecasts a 2.9 percent increase.

But Bay State employers also face a wild card in their compensation calculations for this year – the prospect that the Massachusetts Legislature will increase the commonwealth’s $8-per-hour minimum wage. The state Senate last year passed a bill that would boost the base wage to $9 per hour in 2014; $10 per hour in 2015; and $11 per hour in 2016 and thereafter index it to inflation.

The House of Representatives is expected to take up the issue soon, potentially in tandem with an overhaul of the Unemployment Insurance system.

The issue for employers is not simply increasing hourly pay to meet the new minimum wage. A $3 increase will require employers to plan for dealing with wage compression when inexperienced and new employees are brought up to pay rates currently given to experienced workers. 

Companies with salary ranges will also need to adjust them annually between 2014 and 2016.  Salary ranges are developed by setting range widths (difference between minimum and maximum) and relationships between range midpoints.  The result will be an overall increase in compensation spending.

The bottom line: employers need to review their wage structures to determine budgetary impact and assess their internal compensation expertise to carry out a multi-year compensation plan responsive to the potential changes in the minimum wage.

The other major compensation challenge facing Massachusetts employers remains the cost of providing health insurance to workers.

Companies continue to rely heavily on cost shifting to control health premiums, but an increasing number of employers are moving gingerly into the world of plan-design options ranging from high-deductible policies to tiered health programs in which workers pay smaller amounts to be treated at high-quality, moderate-cost community health facilities.

This fifth annual HR Practices Survey from Associated Industries of Massachusetts is intended to provide employers with timely information about compensation, health care, recruiting, training and development.

Watch for our biennial Benefits Survey Report to be published in February.  Our annual General Wage and Executive Compensation survey data collection period will kick off the first week of January and the report will be published in May.

Topics: Compensation, Associated Industries of Massachusetts, Human Resources, Benefits

New Rules Allow Workers to Carry Over Unused Flexible Spending Money

Posted by Tom Jones on Nov 1, 2013 10:45:00 AM

The federal government unveiled a policy change today that is expected to provide a significant incentive for employees to participate in company sponsored Section 125 plans for Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA).

FSAThe U.S. Treasury Department announced that it will modify its FSA “use-it-or-lose-it” provision to allow employees to roll over a limited amount of unused FSA funds at the end of each year.

FSAs allow employees to contribute pre-tax dollars to pay for out-of-pocket healthcare expenses such as deductibles, copayments, and other qualified medical, dental or vision expenses not covered by the individual’s health insurance plan. Employers often encounter resistance to such programs from workers concerned with the requirement that any money remaining in an FSA at the end of the plan year (or after a grace period) is forfeited to the employer – even though the funds have been contributed directly by the employee via payroll deduction.

The two major changes announced by the government are:

  • Effective in plan year 2014, employers who offer FSA programs will have the option to allow participants to roll over up to $500 of unused funds at the end of the plan year or to allow participants to continue their current grace period. Participants cannot do both. Employers will need to decide prior to their upcoming open enrollment period whether their 2014 Health Care FSA will be a $500 carryover plan or a grace period plan.
  • Effective immediately, employers who offer FSA programs that do not include a grace period will have the option to allow employees to roll over up to $500 of unused funds at the end of the current 2013 plan year.

The change to Health Care FSAs follows the Affordable Care Act limitation on employee FSA contributions to $2,500 per year effective January 1, 2013.  The $2,500 limit will be adjusted for inflation in future years.  This carryover of up to $500 does not affect the maximum amount of salary reduction contributions that the participant is permitted to make.

The Massachusetts Health Connector announced Monday that it plans to file legislation to repeal several key requirements of the state health reform law, including the Section 125 requirement, the Employer Health Insurance Responsibility Disclosure (Employer HIRD) requirement, the free-rider surcharge, and the recently created Section 125 notification requirement.  That announcement addressed the use of a section 125 plan to purchase individual health insurance and does not affect employee contributions to Health Care FSAs.

Topics: Health Care Costs, Human Resources, Benefits

AIM Benefits Report: Health Insurance Changes Slow to Reach Employers

Posted by Karen Choi on Mar 7, 2012 3:01:00 PM

Breathtaking changes that hold the promise of controlling the cost of health insurance in Massachusetts have not yet reached most employers and their workers.

2012 AIM Benefits ReportThe 2012 AIM Benefits Report provides a compelling snapshot of the time lag that always falls between revolutionary changes and their implementation throughout an economy. Benjamin Disraeli had it right when he said that “great revolutions, whatever may be their causes, are not lightly commenced, and are not concluded with precipitation.”

Health care and health insurance costs remain the dominant benefits challenge for the 236 Massachusetts employers who participated in the benefits survey. A staggering 98 percent named providing health insurance to their workers as the primary concern of their companies.

But despite the development of cost-reducing health insurance plans that encourage patients to seek care in reasonably priced settings, and the development of payment structures that reward doctors for good outcomes rather than tests, most employers continued to use traditional cost shifting to address their health premium issues in 2011.

The report indicates that only 2 percent of employers offer a tiered network plan, which provides workers low co-pays for treatment in community settings, and 1 percent of companies offered a limited network plan that reduces costs by requiring patients to seek care in within a defined group of providers.

Thirty-eight percent of employers, meanwhile, increased co-pays for employees. Forty-one percent boosted deductibles and 37 percent increases co-payments for visits to the hospital emergency room.

Analysts expect those numbers to change drastically this year as employers get their first taste of innovative new insurance plans:

  • Tiered network plans, with premiums 12 percent below those for an average HMO, now make up 15 percent of the Massachusetts market.
  • More than 1.2 million Bay State residents are now covered by cost-reducing health plans that pay doctors for outcomes instead of procedures and reward consumers for seeking care in high-quality community facilities.
  • Steward Health Care System received approval in December to market a limited-network health plan that the company says will cost 15-30 percent less than a typical health maintenance organization.
  • Small employers in Massachusetts face average premium increases of 1.8 percent in 2012, down from 16.3 percent two years ago.

The changes in the health care market can’t come soon enough for frustrated employers who realize that cost-shifting ultimately erodes their ability to attract and retain key employees. Lower health premiums are just the prescription for increased economic growth and job creation.

Topics: AIM Benefits Report, Health Care Costs, Benefits

Can This Man Control Your Health Care Costs?

Posted by Christopher Geehern on Sep 14, 2011 9:41:00 AM

de la TorreRalph de la Torre is operating on the Massachusetts health care market with the same precision he used to become one the nation’s foremost heart surgeons.

Employers are hoping the patient makes a speedy recovery.

The Chairman and CEO of Steward Health Care System shocked the medical establishment in November 2010 with a deal to have private equity giant Cerberus Capital purchase six struggling Caritas Christi hospitals. For-profit Steward has since grown into the largest integrated community care organization in New England with eight hospitals, 14,000 employees and four more acquisitions scheduled to close before year-end.

Friends and colleagues say the warp-speed acceleration of Steward into a major player in the health care market reflects what the Boston Globe called the “ample ability and breathtaking ambition” of de la Torre, a doctor-turned executive who grew up the son of a Cuban-American physician in Florida. More importantly, observers say, de la Torre’s vision of a network of low-cost, high-quality community hospitals has changed the dynamics of a health care market that remains one of the most expensive in the country.

De la Torre will speak at the AIM Executive Forum this Friday at 8 a.m. at the Westin hotel in Waltham.

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The growth of Steward comes as hospitals, doctors, insurers, employers and policymakers seek to control health premiums by changing the way in which health care is delivered. As Massachusetts moves to a system of global payments and integrated accountable care organizations, the community hospitals that Steward is acquiring take on newfound importance.

Can de la Torre create a new national model of delivering health care? Analysts say the fact that he choreographed an $895 million deal involving a private equity firm, a network of former Catholic hospitals, labor unions, community activists and public officials tells you all you need to know about the determination of the former chief of cardiac surgery at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Andrew Dreyfus, President and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts calls de la Torre’s successful conclusion of the Cerberus acquisition “one of the most remarkable acts of public persuasion that we’ve seen in this community on a long time.”

In the past eight months, Steward has acquired Merrimack Valley Hospital in Haverhill and Nashoba Valley Medical Center in Ayer. The company has also signed purchase agreements for five additional hospitals – Morton Hospital and Medical Center in Taunton; Landmark Medical Center in Woonsocket, Rhode Island; Rehabilitation Hospital of Rhode Island in North Smithfield; Quincy Medical Center in Quincy; and Saints Medical Center in Lowell.

Steward facilities now total more than four million square feet and the company has committed to $270 million in construction during the next five years. Total investment in facility upgrades and renovations will hit $260 by the end of 2011.

The key question for employers is whether Steward and other providers can succeed in controlling cost by convincing patients to obtain all but the most complex medical care at community hospitals. It is the same issue identified by Attorney General Martha Coakley in a recent report that challenged employers to buy health insurance that used tiered or limited networks to direct employees to reasonably prices treatment.

De la Torre believes his plans will work.

“My goal is to fix health care,” he told The Boston Globe.

Topics: Health Care Costs, Benefits

Give Cities and Towns the Tools to Save Millions on Health Coverage

Posted by Brian Gilmore on Sep 2, 2010 9:20:00 AM

municipal reformCash-strapped cities and towns in Massachusetts gain the opportunity to save millions annually, avert layoffs, and maintain services. No brainer, right?

Well not exactly.

Governor Patrick signed a law in 2007 allowing cities and towns to negotiate with their unions and retirees to join the state’s Group Insurance Commission (GIC), which provides health insurance to more than 300,000 public employees and their dependents at generally lower cost than most municipalities can offer.

But only 19 cities and towns, mainly located in Greater Boston, have taken advantage of the law. The lack of participation comes despite the fact that those 19 communities are together saving $40 million annually on health insurance costs.

AIM, the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation (MTF) and several regional chambers of commerce have sought to address the muted response to the GIC opportunity by backing legislation to give local officials the power to design their health insurance plans outside of collective bargaining, and to require all eligible local retirees to enroll in Medicare as their primary source of health insurance. The measure would allow cities and towns to save an estimated $100 million per year almost immediately and as much as $2 billion by 2020.

The Massachusetts Legislature unfortunately failed to act on the bill before adjourning from its formal session in July.

A recent study conducted by the Boston Foundation and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council found that savings among cities and towns that joined the GIC range from $4.5 million for Brookline to $426,000 for Millis. Those savings have helped the communities cope with a severe revenue squeeze caused by cuts in local aid and rising costs for health insurance and energy.

Municipal health insurance costs have increased at double-digit rates since 2000, more than five times the rate of inflation. Premiums will grow from just 6 percent of municipal budgets in 2001, to a projected 20 percent by 2020.  The failure to realize projected savings through tools such as plan design will inevitably result in layoffs and cuts in local services such as education.

How can you help?

  • Find out whether your city or town has taken steps to purchase health insurance through the GIC. Go to www.mass.gov, click on to the Administration and Finance section and look for the municipality insurance information page.
  • If you find that your city, town or school district has joined the GIC, thank them. If they have not joined the GIC to purchase health insurance, ask your local officials why not.
  • Ask candidates for election or reelection to the Legislature where they stand on allowing cites or towns to go outside bargaining agreements to purchase health insurance from the GIC for public employees.  

Topics: Associated Industries of Massachusetts, AIM, Municipal Reform, Benefits

Heavy Handed Sick Days Mandate Will Hold Back Hiring in Massachusetts

Posted by Christopher Geehern on Apr 1, 2010 11:01:00 AM

Editor's note - Organized labor will rally on Beacon Hill today in support of a bill that would mandate a "one-size-fits-all" policy on sick days for employers. Karen Orlandi, Director of Human Resources for AIM-member and medical-device maker AliMed Inc., writes in the post below that such an approach would place a dangerous damper on job creation. 

I find it odd that proponents of mandatory paid sick day legislation use the argument that it is good for business.

AliMed Inc. offers multiple benefits, including health care, long-term disability, and wellness programs to our employees. And yes, we do this because we have determined what is good for our business to ensure that we are competitive and continue to retain talented employees.

But our business, benefits and employees are unique and AliMed Inc. would never suggest to another business that it must adopt a similar strategy. Legislating such a “one size fits all” mandate would impose significant additional costs on employers, especially small businesses like ours, during a time when the Massachusetts unemployment is near 10 percent. It would cause further job losses, hold back new hiring and wage growth, create a new area of potential (and inevitable) abuse, and add yet again another reason not to do business in Massachusetts.

In a time of general agreement that small business must lead our economy out of recession, wouldn’t elected officials and unemployed citizens of the commonwealth prefer that employers use their limited dollars to create new jobs? Enacting this type of legislation is bad public policy, especially now because it sends the message that job creation is not the priority.

We strongly oppose Senate Bill 688 and House Bill 1815 or any other similar proposal that would mandate paid sick days, and urge legislators to focus on making Massachusetts more business friendly.

Topics: Massachusetts Legislature, AIM, Employment Law, Benefits

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