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The implementation of the 2014 New York State of Health Benefit Exchange, the state’s new official health plan marketplace is one of the most important issues facing businesses today. The New York State of Health Exchange started the open enrollment process on October 1, 2013. The Business Council of Westchester has been in the forefront of educating the business community on the new program. In October of 2013, The Business Council held a special Healthcare Forum, its third one over the year,to review what businesses needed to know about the New York Health Exchange. The discussions were led by a panel of health care experts all who were responsible for bringing New York State into compliance with the Affordable Health Care Act. The speakers discussed how the implementation of the Exchange was being rolled out and how the state would be addressing issues that businesses might be having as they attempted to enroll their employees for new health benefits.

In 2013, The Business Council of Westchester received a grant from the Community Service Society of New York, which launched the Small Business Assistance Program to educate small businesses about the health reform law. Since April of 2013, The Business Council has held more then 40 healthcare seminars for businesses. The seminars were held at the Business Council’s office and through a partnership with the Westchester Library System at Public Libraries throughout the county. The seminars reviewed the different employer mandates and what tax credits are available to employers who offer health insurance to their employees.

In October of 2013, The Business Council of Westchester became part of New York State’s Navigator Program to help enroll employees and employers in the New York State of Health Exchange. Since the start of the open enrollment process in New York State in October of 2013 the Business Council of Westchester’s certified navigator has assisted over 300 individuals enroll in the new program.

The costs of health care continues to be a major concern to the business community and questions still remain if New York’s Health exchange will provide access but still not address affordability. The Council’s goal in 2014 is to continue to achieve progress in examining and controlling the escalating costs of health care and Medicaid to achieve meaningful reductions in health care premiums and Medicaid spending. The Business Council will keep focusing on cost-containment issues. The creation of flexibility in New York’s health insurance regulations to permit more innovativeofferings to give businesses more diverse and affordable choices is important.

On other health care legislative issues the Business Council of Westchester supports:

  • Place a moratorium on new mandates due to the changes imposed by the federal Affordable Care Act.
     
  • Evaluate existing mandates to determine how they align with federal mandates and determine if mandate relief is possible.

  • Reduce taxes and assessments that raise the cost of health insurance.

  • Look for more savings in the state’s Medicaid Redesign efforts. Much of the work to redesign New York’s complicated Medicaid system calls for fundamental changes to the roles and compensation for many of the providers in the system. The redesign of the Medicaid system cannot just be across the board provider cuts and manipulated reimbursement rates to achieve real savings and not cost-shots to the private pay health insurance markets. In addition, The Business Council supports the efforts to have the state take over the cost of Medicaid financing from local municipalities.

  • Reform Medicaid to resemble the more typical benefits offered by other states and supports a crackdown on Medicaid fraud to restore taxpayer confidence in the program. 

  • Endorse the enactment of medical liability tort reform to rein in the cost of medical malpractice insurance.

  • Support wellness programs offered by health insures, featuring incentives and rewards for employers, employee contributions would be voluntary.

  • Create incentives for the use of electronic medical records.

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