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Analysis of proposed health reform policies

prez_seal_stethHealth reform has remained a hot topic throughout the recent months leading up to the presidential election. Here is a breakdown and analysis of a few proposals put forth during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Completely repeal Obamacare. Our elected representatives must eliminate the individual mandate. No person should be required to buy insurance unless he or she wants to.

Regardless of your political affiliation, I think we can agree there are many aspects of The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) that have mitigated the current health care crisis. The law has mandated more comprehensive coverage of health plans, for example, dependents must be eligible up to age 26, there are no more lifetime limits Read more…

Growth in renewable jobs in Massachusetts

February 18, 2016 Leave a comment

solar_workerAccording to a recent report from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC), the state has seen an increase in jobs and performance in the energy sector over the past two years. The double-digit growth has been consistent for the past four years with the state now employing 98,985 workers at 6,439 clean tech and renewable energy companies across the state. Massachusetts clean energy is now an $11 billion dollar industry, making it a stand out on the map for global leadership in clean energy.

The innovation and investing in the field has allowed Massachusetts to grow the industry into a model of what other states want to accomplish. “Private sector innovation and investment combined with public sector leadership on forward thinking clean energy policies are continuing to prove to be a strong formula to drive the flourishing of this industry,” commented Northeast Clean Energy Council President Peter Rothstein. Read more…

IRS extends 1094-C, 1095-C filing deadlines

calendarAs employers anxiously prepared for the upcoming deadlines for the 1094-C and 1095-C filings, the IRS dropped another holiday week surprise. They extended the due dates for the filing of these 2015 forms (Notice 2016-4). This extension of time was also granted to health insurers who will be providing coverage information to individuals who are covered by fully insured plans.

Applicable large employers will have almost two additional months to issue Forms 1095-C to individuals. 1095-Cs must now be distributed by March 31, 2016 (the original due date was February 1). The deadline for filing the forms with the IRS, including the 1094-C, has been extended by three months. The new IRS deadline is now May 31, 2016 (via mail) and June 30, 2016 (electronically).  Read more…

Insurance unicorn cut in half

November 13, 2015 Leave a comment

healthcareMAUnicorns, private, VC-backed firms with valuations over $1 billion had been growing by leaps and bounds this year.  But, now those valuations are under pressure.  The most dramatic of these in insurance is Zenefits, an online health insurance broker.  Press reports today say that Fidelity cut its valuation for Zenefits by 48% from its May round, still a unicorn but a much smaller one at a reported $2.34 billion.  That cannot be making shareholders happy.

The report also says that turnover is high and telephone sales representatives in Arizona are being paid $30,000 per year. No surprise at those low wage levels. Read more…

Insurer steps into drug pricing controversy

November 9, 2015 Leave a comment

lawsuitInsurance will play a huge role in the developing drug pricing controversy.  Healthcare commentator, Ezekial Emanual, opined in yesterday’s New York Times that new drugs, particularly PCSK9 inhibitors for cholesterol control, are entering the market at prices well above their utility as measured by the extremely clinical, but widely used,  “Quality-adjusted Life Years” measure.  Now, of course, Amgen (a PCSK9 maker) may not agree with Emanuel’s calculations and that represents just one of the problems.

Emanuel fairly raises the question of whether the drug/healthcare industry will self-regulate the issue.  The alternative, “death panels” from the government, are highly unlikely based on prior debates.  Read more…

The Affordable Care Act’s provisions on expatriate health insurance

July 30, 2015 Leave a comment

flagsOn June 30, 2015, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Treasury Department issued Notice 2015-43. The notice provides transition relief and interim guidance based on the application of particular provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to expatriate health insurance issuers, expatriate health plans, and employers in their capacity as plan sponsors of expatriate health plans, as defined in the Expatriate Health Coverage Clarification Act of 2014 (EHCCA).

The Departments of the Treasury, Labor, and Health and Human Services aim to publish proposed regulations on the requirements for expatriate health plans, plan sponsors, and health insurance issuers. The departments are welcoming comments on defining the terms “expatriate health plan” and “qualified expatriate,” in addition to the interaction of the EHCCA with existing relief for expatriate health plans. Read more…

July 1st signaled the beginning of paid sick leave for MA and CA employees

health-insurance-615cs073012Employees in California and Massachusetts who previously did not receive paid sick leave are now eligible for this benefit.  In Massachusetts, employers must now provide all employees with five days of sick leave per year, paid or unpaid depending on the employer’s size. California employers, on the other hand, must now provide employees at least three paid sick days per year. Employers that already provide paid time off, vacation, or other leave benefits can potentially use existing policies to meet their new compliance obligations as long as its meets the minimum requirements of the new law. Below is a high-level overview of some of the major provisions of each state’s sick leave law. Read more…