Senate health care bill allows for greater choice

For immediate release
January 4, 2012

Contact
Betsy Bishop
Vermont Chamber of Commerce
(802) 595-5403
[email protected]

BERLIN, Vt. – On the opening day of the 2012 Legislative Session, Sen. Vince Illuzzi and Sen. Hinda Miller introduced an important health care bill that would allow for greater choice for employers in the new health care exchange that will be implemented on January 1, 2014.

Last year, the Vermont Chamber worked closely with Sen. Illuzzi on language to amend the health care reform bill now known as Act 48. The bill introduced this year, S.272 is consistent with those amendments.

Betsy Bishop, President of the Vermont Chamber said, “The Vermont Chamber supports Sen. Illuzzi and Sen. Miller’s efforts to create greater choice for employers with a focus on the cost of health care insurance and I look forward to working with them to pass this bill this session.”

Illuzzi said the focus of S. 272 is to ensure smooth transition and allow for choice.

“The goal of our legislation is to maintain existing health care plans and expand opportunities to purchase affordable health insurance. We need to ensure that we don’t restrict access to coverage and care, increase costs on employers or reduce payments to providers to the point that they stop practicing in Vermont,” Illuzzi added.

As the Legislature moves forward in making key decisions regarding Act 48, the state’s health care reform bill enacted in the 2011 session, the Vermont Chamber will be advocating for more choice for employers in this new marketplace. The key decisions being discussed and debated this year will be:
Business size – The 2010 federal law requires businesses with 50 or fewer employees purchase health care within that state’s Exchange but it gives the state the option of also including businesses with 50-100 employees. The Vermont Chamber will encourage the Legislature to implement the exchange initially for businesses with fewer than 50 employees, which would not only comply with federal law but also provide the ability to implement the new system with the least amount of disruption, allowing a smoother start to a completely new system.
Essential health benefits – The Legislature will decide what essential health benefits will be offered within the Exchange and that package will need approval from the Green Mountain Care Board. The key factor in this decision is what benefits will be covered through federal assistance and which ones the state will add at its own expense. The Vermont Chamber will work to make sure that benefits are sufficient and cost effective.
Plan options – Act 48 currently allows for three plan options to be offered within the Exchange, eliminating two of the plans allowed by federal law that would likely provide lower cost insurance plans. S.272 would re-visit this decision and the Vermont Chamber strongly supports building a cost-effective system that allows for additional plan options, including the “Bronze Level.”
Off Exchange Market – The Vermont Chamber will advocate for allowing qualified health plans to be sold outside of the Exchange. This would allow additional options for employers after 2014 when the Exchange is implemented.

Bishop also said, “Cost containment should be in the forefront of all decisions made in the implementation of health care reform, including the efforts underway by the Green Mountain Care Board on the continuation of the Blueprint for Health, payment reform, and delivery system reform.”

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