Editor’s note: Bill Grant is Chief Financial Officer of Cummings Properties in Woburn and a director of Associated Industries of Massachusetts.
I was asked a year ago to chair AIM’s Health Care Cost and Policy Committee, a group established by the association to address the most pressing cost issue facing Massachusetts employers.
Our goal during the first year was twofold: provide the employers who serve on the committee with access to information to help them control health insurance costs at their companies; and provide AIM’s government affairs team with employer feedback on state and federal policy issues.
Our 2013 agenda included:
- Reconcile federal health care reform with Massachusetts health care reform.
- Monitor implementation of the 2012 Massachusetts health-care cost containment law, which set a target to control the growth of health costs consistent with the growth of the commonwealth’s economy.
- Educate employers and employees about strategies to manage health insurance costs.
The committee hosted a number of industry experts to speak to employers:
- Kate Nordahl, The Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation, reviewed employer responsibilities under the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) employer responsibilities.
- Eric Linzer, Massachusetts Association of Health Plans, discussed the new health insurance fees added to insurance premiums under the ACA.
- Michael Caljouw, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, reviewed the impact of eliminating the state’s rating factors as required by the ACA.
- Tom O’Brien, Assistant Attorney General and Chief of the Attorney General’s Health Care Division, and Courtney Aladro, Assistant Attorney General, Health Care Division, discussed the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Examination of Health Care Cost Trends and Cost Drivers Report.
- Susan Amsel, Product Portfolio Manager at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, demonstrated the company’s new transparency and consumer-engagement Web tool called NowiKnow.
- Mark Converse, Regional Health and Wellness Practice Leader at USI, discussed current health trends and employer practices in addressing employee health care costs.
The committee also helped AIM’s government affairs team successfully support a number of state policy changes that impacted employers including:
- Elimination of the fair share assessment under the 2006 state health care reform.
- Elimination the Medical Security Trust Fund assessment.
- Elimination of the employee Health Insurance Responsibility Disclosure form.
- Elimination of the employer Health Insurance Responsibility Disclosure filing.
- Elimination of the Free Rider Surcharge.
- Elimination of the Section 125 requirement for non-benefit eligible employees.
The committee will continue to advocate during 2014 for employer-friendly state and federal policies while encouraging AIM members to become more engaged in efforts to control their health-care costs. We invite you to come to our meetings and join the discussion.