Update on Health Care Reform

By Ric Joyner, CEBS, GBA

I remember in 1994 when “Hillary Care” was collapsing under it’s own weight because the change was too massive. This appears to be happening again. However, this time, President Obama has opened several “change” fronts.The list starts with Health Care Reform (1-3,500,000,000,000 [let the zeros sink in] ) in new expenses. Next is “Cap and Trade” which is a European form of energy tax. What this means for average Americans is higher energy usage taxes on electricity and gas. In Germany, where Cap and Trade is underway the average German family saw their electric bill go up 25%. Some in DC are saying this is the largest tax increase in American history, in the name of Global Warming.

Left wing view of cap and trade. http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2008/01/capandtrade101.html

Right wing view of cap and trade. http://www.heritage.org/Research/Economy/wm1723.cfm

Another new new front is for comprehensive immigration reform. These are bold and strategic steps the President is taking. In summary, when a president attempts to take on more change fronts the projects tend to fall apart or become minimized. In my opinion I hope that the taxation of employee benefits is laid to rest including elimination of Flexible Spending Accounts, which is our livelihood as well as 1.3 million employees and 48,000,000 participants (1-6 Americans).

Jobs are being lost at a record pace and this is forcing down the presidents poll numbers. The stimulus bill dollars are slow to funnel into the economy which now has created further angst on those waiting to get funding for projects and put people to work. Ahhh…the government is so efficient. I can’t wait for my health care to be provided by a bureaucrat!

Senate now is 60% Democrat with the seating of Al Franken, which means they have majority control and  this can  means the Dems can pass bills faster. For Obama’s agenda this is strategic coup! However, your voice is now more important than ever. Your representative is accountable to you as a voter and they want to hear your comments or concerns. Get a plan and work the plan.

Good news from an NAPBA member who is educating their representatives. An mail report came in this week on status of their representative who sits on the Senate Finance Committee.

Yesterday, we spoke with Geri Gaginis, Senator Conrad’s Executive Assistant regarding setting up a meeting with Senator Conrad in DC.  Geri told us that with the markup of the health care reform bill starting next week, he won’t have time but that she does not think we need to be concerned about the issue of FSAs, HSAs and HRAs under health care reform.  She stated that both Kate Spaziani and Dana Halvorson are very close to the action and confirmed that both Kate and Dana believe that FSAs, HSAs and HRAs will remain a viable option under health care reform. 

Suzanne Rehr

Executive Vice President

Discovery Benefits, Inc.


Newsletter from our Attorney:

Clients and colleagues:

As we approach the July 4th holiday, Congress and key players in health care reform are still debating about the three key issues – an employer mandate, taxation of employer-provided health care benefits and a public plan option.  No substantial developments have emerged on any of the three fronts, and none is expected until Congress reconvenes after the holiday.  However, a number of other developments have emerged including the following:

  • The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) scored the Senate’s draft bill at a cost in excess of $1.6 Trillion over 10 years, but recently the Senate Finance Committee believes it can scale down the the bill to $1 Trillion.  This leaves one-half to two-thirds of the bill with no revenue offset, because even taxing employer-provided coverage is only expected to raise approximately $250 -$500 Billion over 10 years.
  • Wal-Mart has sent a letter to President Obama supporting employer-provided coverage and an employer mandate (see attached).

Have a great Holiday.  If you have any questions, please let us know.

The KS Health and Welfare Team

Mark L. Stember
Kilpatrick Stockton LLP
607 – 14th Street, NW, Suite 900
Washington, DC 20005-2018
202.508.5802 (P)
202.585.0018 (F)

The job of educating our representatives is up to us. Getting the word out to clients, your employees and participants is crucial. The tools to do this are located at: www.napba.og

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Good luck and don’t let others do all the heavy lifting…make your opinion heard.