Monday, February 13, 2012

Crisco highlights suggestions of small business health care study group

    State Sen. Joseph J. Crisco, Jr., D-Woodbridge, Senate chair of the legislature’s Insurance and Real Estate Committee, underscored in a press release the eight recommendations made recently by the hand-picked Speaker’s Working Group on Small Business Health Care, on which he served.
     The group consisted of nine legislators and 16 representatives from small businesses; it examined access to affordable healthcare, applicable insurance markets and regulations, and barriers faced by small business owners in pursuit of health care and health care coverage.
    Its eight recommendations seek to address and mitigate that disadvantage:
·     Permit small businesses to purchase health coverage through the state employee plan.
·     Promote non-profit health coverage options to stimulate competition.
·     Improve transparency with cost and coverage comparisons.
·     Remove age, gender, and other demographics from insurance industry ratings in the small group market.
·     Require insurance providers to rate and offer policies to associations of small businesses.
·     Require insurance providers to report the actuarial value of plans to the purchaser.
·     Merge the individual (self-employed) and small group markets in the new Insurance Exchange.
·     Offer a Basic Health Program (BHP) for low-income-qualifying employees of small businesses to lower costs.
     “In a word, the working group determined small businesses and the self-employed are at a competitive disadvantage in the health care market because they lack leverage and the commensurate purchasing power that accompanies economies of scale,” Crisco said in a written release. “Each of its recommendations is meant to remedy the resulting inequity.   
     “Throughout my tenure on the Insurance Committee I have been working to increase access to health care coverage and at the same time, distribute the risk to insurers in an effort to lower the cost of that coverage,” Crisco said in the release. “Over the past several months this working group heard from insurance consumers, providers, and regulators before making these reform recommendations for the small group and individual market – now my committee will work to implement policy based upon these recommendations.”

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