Local experts say health law constantly evolving

Chamber panelists talk highs and lows of Affordable Care Act.


A panel of local experts Thursday described the Affordable Care Act as a mixed bag of legislation that will likely bring some benefits to patients but that can also be confusing for business owners and consumers.

The experts, from a variety of area medical providers and insurance firms, met with business owners in a discussion hosted by the Greater Springfield Chamber at the Courtyard by Marriott. Those on the panel pointed out that the law is unlikely to go away, and the adjustments to the rules will likely continue to change frequently.

Members of the panel did not take sides on the issues but recommended that business owners keep in close contact with their advisers and not overreact to provisions in the law that may still change.

What’s known today will likely change over the course of the year, said John Barron, senior vice president of the Brower Insurance Agency.

“There are some good parts to this law and also there are some very challenging parts as well,” Barron said.

Members of the audience sought answers to a variety of questions, including how organizations might be penalized for declining to provide insurance, and whether it may be more cost effective to provide coverage or pay fines. However, Barron said the answer is complicated and noted penalties per employee increase depending on the size of the company involved. In many cases it may be less expensive to comply with the law, he said.

Some business owners expressed concerns about how the law might impact health care premiums for employees.

Matt Foley, of the Foley Benefits Group, said business owners will need to evaluate the risks and benefits if they decline to provide coverage.

Some aspects of the law are just now being clarified, including how some types of employees will be considered under the legislation to determine the amount of hours they work, said Michelle Sweeney, an agent and broker at Wallace and Turner. She said it’s not always clear how the law will work in the real world for some jobs, such as volunteer firefighters.

Regardless of the law, health organizations need to do a better job of finding new ways to become more cost-efficient and still find ways to improve care for patients, said John Fishpaw, vice president of advocacy and government relations for Catholic Health Partners. One of the challenges for consumers, he said, is it’s now often difficult now to compare costs for different procedures.

“This is something that has to come from within regardless of government intervention,” Fishpaw said.

Chamber officials said further panel discussions of the law are likely to help answer additional questions as the law continues to change.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Community News

Atlanta group protests CNN coverage of Trump
Atlanta group protests CNN coverage of Trump

About 30 people gathered outside CNN’s Atlanta headquarters Saturday to protest the network’s coverage of President Donald Trump. “Beware fake news” and “CNN. Criminal News Network” were some of the messages they delivered to people walking nearby and to fellow political conservatives watching the demonstration...
Wind, storms damage north Springfield neighborhoods
Wind, storms damage north Springfield neighborhoods

Storms and high winds damaged property and caused power outages in north Springfield neighborhoods on Saturday morning. Residents of several properties in Northern Estates and Glenco Estates awoke to uprooted trees and branches that fell on and around homes, peeled off siding and knocked out car windows. Providence Avenue and Marinette Drive in Northern...
Woman bit by shark off Florida Keys
Woman bit by shark off Florida Keys

A 40-year-old woman was bit on her foot by a shark in the Florida Keys and airlifted to the hospital Saturday. A good Samaritan reported the shark attack around 12:30 p.m. to the U.S. Coast Guard, according to WTVJ. The woman, who has not been identified, said it was a small shark. She is in the hospital in good condition.
Police break window to rescue dogs from hot car
Police break window to rescue dogs from hot car

Boston police officers and firefighters broke into a car Thursday evening to save a couple of dogs trapped inside. Boston 25 was there when police pulled the dogs from the car and put them into a police cruiser. A woman told us she was out for a run on Columbia Road in South Boston when she saw the dogs inside the car. She said she checked the temperature...
Car drives off with nozzle in tank, sparking gas station fire
Car drives off with nozzle in tank, sparking gas station fire

A quick-thinking attendant prevented a small fire at a Southwest Austin gas station from becoming much, much worse, Austin fire officials said. The fire at an Exxon station at U.S. 290 and FM 1826 was confined to a single pump. It was reported just before 8 p.m. Friday. The Austin Fire Department said a car drove off with the fuel nozzle still in its...
More Stories