'Lunch and learn' event looks at health care act
By Patrick Cloonan
Published: Friday, July 26, 2013, 2:26 a.m.
Change is coming to health care in the United States regardless of what happens to the Affordable Care Act, a panel of experts told the Mon Yough Area Chamber of Commerce.
A “lunch and learn” seminar at McKeesport's Auberle on Thursday addressed legal, medical and business angles of health care reform, although no one referred to it as “ObamaCare.”
“Do whatever has to be done to make sure you are in compliance,” moderator Robert Haramia of Harwil Associates in Clairton said.
Carl Knoblock, director of the Small Business Administration's Western Pennsylvania district, urged businesses to develop a 3-5 year strategic plan that includes health care.
“You are dealing with a series of regulators,” Knoblock said, including the IRS and departments of Labor and Health and Human Services.
“Are they necessarily talking to each other? No,” he said.
Knoblock said assisting employees with mandatory paperwork will help in the long run, regardless of whether a company offers insurance.
Companies will have to offer insurance if they employ the equivalent of at least 50 full-time employees working at least 30 hours a week, or they could be fined $2,000 per employee under the Affordable Care Act.
Attorney Joseph A. Vater Jr. of Meyer Unkovic & Scott said he doubts that the limit will be changed from 50.
Vater handed out explanations of how full-time equivalence is determined for part-timers. The usual way will be to take the aggravate number of work hours in a month and divide that sum by 120.
Hospital Council of Western Pennsylvania president A.J. Harper said that even politicians opposed to the 2010 law tell him they find “a lot in this legislation that they like.”
Harper pointed out cuts in federal payments for Medicaid and Medicare, including a 2 percent across-the-board cut because of budget sequestration.
Harper said refusal to expand Medicaid cost Pennsylvania 35,000 jobs and greater Disproportional Share Hospital adjustment payments to cover large volumes of low-income patients.
Some panelists stressed an emphasis on wellness, be it to encourage employees to stop smoking, or managing stress or community activities such as walks.
“Over half of (medical) expenses are directly linked to personal health care choices,” Jefferson Regional Medical Center senior vice president James C. Cooper said.
John Mills, senior director of commercial projects for UPMC Health Plan, said there will be changes in how much is charged for insurance.
Mills said companies now can charge a 64-year-old up to five times what a 19-year-old is charged, but the Affordable Care Act allows only up to three times that much.
Mills said tobacco use could mean 50 percent greater premiums, but he expects hikes of only around 10 percent.
“We want (smokers) to go into tobacco cessation programs,” Mills said. “We want them to be honest.”
Cooper and Harper talked about research being done into community needs. Cooper said that led Jefferson to form a new obstetrics unit and add emphasis to women's services in Clairton.
Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Experience the best teacher for Clairton student
- Driller preps for Forward decision
- McKeesport center part of Cal’s digital storytelling class project
- Versailles fire displaces couple on Third Street
- Library tax adds to West Homestead budget
- Man pleads guilty in drug trafficking
- Versailles council OKs tentative plan
- Survivors recognized during West Mifflin Area ceremony
- Port Vue ready to approve budget
- South Versailles approves budget
- Officials give OK to develop disaster plan