The Clinton County Board of Supervisors heard an overview of some of the aspects of the new healthcare legislation from consultant Ruth Lee during Monday’s meeting.
Lee highlighted some of the main changes that would affect the county. She said some of the mandates on the coverage required are important to note, as well as the new reporting and disclosure requirements. Lee said these new requirements will add an administrative burden on the county with the necessary tracking and monitoring.
“There aren’t going to be many things in that area that are cast in stone. There are a lot of things that are subject to change either as the current government looks at unforeseen consequences. And certainly if there is a major change in congress, there might be some changes that are larger than just the mandatory changes. So the jury’s all, kind of out on that,” said Lee.
In 2014, most residents will be required to have a minimum health coverage. Penalties will be given to people who do not have coverage. However, Lee said some people may choose to pay the penalty amount and only buy insurance when it is needed. She said under the new plan, a person can get into an insurance plan at any time and have it cover pre-existing conditions. She said it would almost be as if a person was in a car crash, then decided to buy insurance and the crash was covered.
Lee said the definition of full-time and part-time employees will change. Anyone working 30 or more hours would be full-time. She said this could cause employees who had never before been covered to receive health insurance. In 2012, employers will be required to report on W2 forms how much was spent on an employee for health coverage. She said it is possible this amount could become taxable as a way to pay for it.
Lee said a reduction in reimbursement rates to physicians taking Medicare patients has been discussed. She said this could make it more difficult for these patients to find a doctor. There is also the possibility of a hospital not being reimbursed if a patient comes back for the same problem within a certain time period. Soon over-the-counter medication costs will not be able to be submitted for reimbursement. Patients could also receive penalties for expenses that have not been approved.
One item Lee said she was somewhat in favor was the annual fees starting in 2012. This fee would start at $1 per employee and increase by $1 a year. The fee would fund “outcomes research,” which looks into which treatment works better.
Overall, Lee is not happy with the legislation. She said some have said it is the worst piece of legislation ever written.
“It could have been something really good and instead it’s something that’s just a cobbled together mess that includes many, many things that are not even relevant,” said Lee.
Board Chairwoman Jill Davisson was upset with the fact that the members of congress are exempt on this healthcare plan and will still receive their same insurance.
“I don’t care if they’re Republicans or Democrats, if they can’t live with what they expect us to live with, then we need to get rid of them,” said Davisson. “If it’s not good enough for them, then it’s not good enough for the public.”
Lee said even when they are out of office, they still will not go to the health plan, but continue to receive their own.
“Shame on every single one of those people that do that to the people out here and that the elderly that are trying to get good healthcare on Medicare and that type of thing and the physicians that are providing it and can’t get reimbursed currently,“ said Davisson. “Shame on every single one of those politicians. And that’s what they are. They are not public servants because a public servant would recognize that and would step aside and say, ‘We all need to live by the same things that we expect the people that are paying our wages to live by.’
“And they all should step aside and let people that want to be public servants take those positions.