Member Update – December 2020

Holiday Greetings from all of the board members at MassAHU! This year will forever be remembered as the year that __________ _________ ___________.
As you complete this sentence, we sincerely hope that your year ends in a good place for you and your loved ones. Wishing you peace, good health, and good fortune in the year ahead. And now, for our Member Update…

Zoom Tuesday Continues in 2021
We’re lining up our monthly Zoom Tuesday programs for the new year, so please register for our January and February programs. Here’s a brief overview of the programs and link to register:

Tuesday, January 12th @ 10:00-11:00 a.m. Join MassAHU for a discussion of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace. Our guest panel will include Stephanie Brown, Chief Diversity Officer for Blue Cross, Keith Marion, DEI Director for Harvard Pilgrim, and Quincy Miller, President of Eastern Bank.

In this important discussion, these business and industry leaders will share best practices for members and their clients in driving diversity, equity and inclusion activities throughout their organizations. REGISTER NOW

Tuesday, February 2nd @ 10:00 – 11:30 a.m. We’re diving into 2021 Legislative Priorities on both a federal and state level. We’ve got a great lineup of speakers including Marcy Buckner, NAHU SVP of Government Relations; James Slotnik, AVP, Government Relations at Sun Life; Jack Bartley, MassAHU’s state legislative counsel; and Mark Gaunya, Vice Chair, NAHU Legislative Council. Find out what our legislative focus will be and how we’ll work to ensure a strong, vibrant health insurance market in Massachusetts and the nation in 2021. REGISTER NOW

Merged Market Advisory Council Update
The Merged Market Advisory Council has extended its meetings into January, as they continue to review market information and actuarial projections in developing recommendations to the Governor on market improvements. Shelley Kaleita from Beacon Hill Consulting Group has diligently taken notes and provided excellent summaries of each meeting. The MMAC has met three times since our last update, so we’re sharing a summary of the November 4, November 17, and December 2 MMAC meetings. Shelley takes such good notes that it’s almost like being there!

MassAHU is planning to submit its recommendations to the MMAC before the end of the year, focusing on what we’ve identified as our core principles regarding the market. These core principles, in very abbreviated terms, include: 1) equity in products and pricing; 2) market transparency; and 3) market-driven solutions. We’ll be sharing our recommendations in our next update. In the meantime, if you haven’t weighed in at one of our legislative committee meetings and you’d like to share your insights, let us know at info@massahu.org before 12/21/20.

Compliance Update
Our monthly compliance update helps tee everyone up for the official start of Massachusetts PFMLA benefits on January 1, 2021. You can download Rick Szczebak’s Member Update HERE, and remember that Rick can be a good resource to your agency and your clients for compliance issues.

Washington DC Update
From February 22-24, Capitol Conference 2021 will be held virtually for the first time in NAHU history. For anyone who has ever attended Capitol Conference, it’s a pretty exciting experience. With the virtual format, there’s more opportunity for members to attend and hear voices from the Legislature, the Administration, political analysts and national ‘think tanks.’ Mark Gaunya, past President and current board member of MassAHU and principal of the Borislow Group, is this year’s Capitol Conference Chair, a role that comes with his being selected to lead the NAHU Legislative Council in July. We are proud and supportive of Mark’s leadership and his passion for a healthy insurance market. We know the 2021 Capitol Conference will be nothing short of excellent and we encourage everyone to attend. No 6:00 a.m. flights to DC or expensive hotel stay required!

REGISTER NOW for the NAHU Virtual Capital Conference 2021, Feb 22-24, 2021!

You’ll be able to join live sessions over 3 days, as well as have access to recordings for any sessions you miss. The biggest challenge for our virtual program will be in connecting with our legislators on Capitol Hill, but we’re up to that challenge for 2021. Just as we’ve had to adjust our business model over the past year, we can still reach out to our legislators on Capitol Hill without meeting face-to-face. We hope you will attend Capitol Conference to help us accomplish our legislative goals.

NAHU Discount on Continuing Education Courses
There are times when we’re scrambling to get Continuing Education credits to meet our license renewal requirements, but we honestly don’t get a lot of professional value out of those courses. On the other hand, NAHU courses don’t fall into that ‘quick fix’ category for CE credits; they enrich our knowledge and expertise as insurance professionals. Most of the courses are accredited as part of achieving the REBC designation, and carry certifications which you can display on your business cards and website. You probably don’t have time to think about taking a course during the 4th quarter, but you can enroll for a course now, take the course next year, and receive a 20% discount on the cost.

Why not plan for your CE credits now and commit to your professional development plan for 2021? Register by December 21st and use the code HOLIDAY20 when you check out to receive your discount. You can find the list of courses and REGISTER HERE.

NAHU B2B Broker Portal
Have you ever had questions you wanted to run by other brokers and didn’t know where to ask for help? The NAHU B2B Broker to Broker portal has been a valuable tool for members to ask those questions in the past, but NAHU is improving its B2B resources with a new portal. They’ll be introducing new community pages over the next few months. The first community to use the new format is the Medicare and LTC page. What an impressive library of information and marketing pieces are literally at your fingertips. Check it out HERE, and even if Medicare is not an area of interest to your practice, be sure to sign up for the communities which are part of your mainstream business. Note: You need to be a member of NAHU in order to access B2B, so if this link does not grant you access, call us for membership information.

The Year in Review
Our legislative counsel, Jack Bartley, has been our lifeline to the legislature this year, especially while the State House remained closed for most of the year, while legislators and their committees conducted meetings virtually. Covid was the main issue affecting both legislation and budgeting in a year that was like no other year we’ve seen. We feel very fortunate to have Jack and his staff guiding our legislative efforts. Our members help support our continuing relationship, and we urge you to invite your colleagues and team members to join MassAHU.

Please read Jack’s 2020 Legislative Report to get a better sense of how much he and his staff do on behalf of our association. We look forward to our continuing relationship with Beacon Hill Consulting Group in 2021, and we especially look forward to holding another legislative happy hour like our event at Trillium last February… just as soon as we get this pandemic under control!

Let’s plan on gathering again next year, so for now, please stay healthy, stay connected, and enjoy your holidays!

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Member Update – November 2020

Can it really be 4th quarter?? It seems unreal that we have lived in this Covid-19 environment for the past nine months with no clear end in sight. In the meantime, we continue to work with our clients, negotiate 2021 renewals, and prepare for the future impact of the pandemic and the outcome of our national election. Stay with us to remain informed and proactive on behalf of the clients you serve, and invite your colleagues to join MassAHU. We need to stay vigilant on behalf of our clients and cannot do so without your support.

Zoom Tuesday is Next Tuesday, November 10th
Registration is open for our upcoming Zoom Tuesday program through Event Brite now. The program will provide a deep dive into ICHRA plans – Individual Health Contribution Reimbursement Accounts – with Bill Stuart, MassAHU Vice President and Compliance leader at Benefit Strategies, and NFP Executive Jeff Rich. Join us for a discussion on ICHRA plans and how they can help your clients provide meaningful, affordable health insurance options to their employees.

Upcoming Industry Programs of Interest
Several other programs are coming up quickly this month. NAHU will be broadcasting a postelection program with Janet Trautwein this Thursday, November 5th. We’re wondering what results will be known by then, but we know her insights will be enlightening regardless. If you are not able to listen to the live broadcast on Thursday, be sure to sign into your account at www.nahu.org to access the recording after the event.

MAHP Annual Conference
We’d also like to extend an invitation to attend Massachusetts Association of Health Plans (MAHP) 2020 conference. What is usually a full-day program held in November each year, instead will be presented in 3 virtual programs, starting this Friday, November 6th, with EOHHS Secretary Marylou Sudders and House Speaker Robert DeLeo. Then on November 20th, Dr Ashish Jha, Dean of Brown University of Public Health, is the guest speaker, and on December 4th, Avik Roy and John McDonough join Jim Braude to take a look forward to future healthcare policy. The MAHP Conference is always relevant to brokers and their employer clients, and this year is no exception. Visit the MAHP website where you can get more details and register to attend one or all of the programs.

AIM Executive Forum with Governor Charlie Baker
On November 13th, the Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) will hold their Executive Forum with Governor Charlie Baker. With the recent announcement of a $774 million economic recovery plan and the proposed 2021 budget, it should be an interesting discussion. The legislature will need to approve the final budget, but in the meantime, they are continuing to extend the FY ’19-20 budget on a monthly basis. You can register for the AIM Executive Forum through the AIM website.

Federal Legislative Update
Much hangs in the balance as the Supreme Court debates the severability of the individual mandate from the Affordable Care Act, and what happens with the Presidency as well as control of the Senate in this week’s election. Although we may not know the outcome of the election immediately, as noted earlier, NAHU CEO Janet Trautwein will hold an election recap on Thursday, November 5th.

Once the 2021 elected leaders take office, MassAHU will be hosting a Zoom Tuesday program to highlight our state and federal legislative priorities with our legislative counsel Jack Bartley, Sun Life Government Relations Executive, James Slotnick and Marcy Buckner, NAHU SVP of Government Relations. More information will be forthcoming in our next update.

Compliance Update
We’re inching closer to the initial eligibility date for claiming benefits under the MA PFMLA on January 1, 2021. Attorney Rick Szczebak outlines the process for filing claims under MA PFMLA in his October update for MassAHU. He also offers a concise update on the state’s regulations and a list of the approved carriers.

NEW Offering for MA PFML
Through a special arrangement with the Massachusetts Association of Insurance Agents (MAIA), MassAHU members can begin offering a private and stand-alone PFML policy to groups of 25 or more employees. To learn more about this option, visit the MA PFML webpage, and sign-up for MAIA’s upcoming webinar: Learn to Sell PFML via MAIA’s Number One Insurance Agency – New Product Offering, on either 11/18 or 11/24!

License Renewals/Continuing Education Update
The state of Massachusetts DOI suspended insurance license renewals during the pandemic in accordance with Governor Baker’s orders last spring. When the suspension was lifted in late spring, the MA DOI issued draft rules that license renewals, including CE requirements, would need to be completed by October 31st. MassAHU and MAIA were instrumental in extending the time for renewing and submitting CE to December 31st out of concern that licensed insurance brokers would not have sufficient time to comply with the earlier deadline. The final regs can be found HERE. Note that if your license renewal date was affected by the pandemic, your next renewal date will still be 3 years from your original 2020 renewal date (i.e., your 2023 birthday).

If you need CE credits, consider taking the Single Payer Healthcare Certification Course through NAHU. NAHU also offers certification courses on several areas of employee benefits, which can lead to earning the professional designation Registered Employee Benefit Consultant (REBC). If you’d like more information on any of NAHU’s professional development programs visit www.nahu.org/professional-development.

Recap on our October Health Plan Virtual Roundtable
Our October Zoom Tuesday program was a success by all accounts, with nine health plan executives participating in our Virtual Roundtable Discussion. Contrary to the format we use for our popular CEO panel at Benefest, we asked each participant a unique question chosen randomly before the event. This allowed the audience to hear about a variety of current topics in a fast-moving and unscripted conversation. We truly appreciate the participation of all our MA health insurance partners.

Topics included emerging trends in primary care, telehealth and behavioral health, the Massachusetts merged market, middle market (50-99), prescription drug costs and carveout plans, Covid-19 impact on claims and trend, Massachusetts budget shortfall, ICHRA and alternate funding plans, transparency and innovation. Thank you to Marie Chalmers, Executive Vice President at Marsh & McLennan and past president of MassAHU, for her role as moderator, engaging everyone in the discussion while being mindful of time. Thank you also to everyone who participated on the panel and whose support of the role of brokers is ever important – Patrick Cahill (HPHC), Scott Meehan (BCBSMA), Eric LaPlaca (Tufts), Jennifer St. Thomas (Allways), Eric Swain (UHC), Scott Ledoux (HNE), Beth Helenius (Fallon), Spence Papke (Aetna), and Jennifer Motta (CIGNA). We look forward to hearing from our health plan partners in future Zoom Tuesday programs leading up to Benefest on May 4, 2021.

Save the Date for our Upcoming Zoom Tuesday Programs
Plan to join us for a look at Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) with industry leaders on Tuesday, December 8th at 10 a.m.

How can we develop business relationships and grow our business in a remote environment? Join us for some fresh ideas and inspiration for the new year on January 5th at 10 a.m.

In closing…
In what is typically a sensory season filled with football games, outdoor hikes, roaring fires and cozy nights, we know that it is also anxiety-filled for many. We hope you take time to enjoy nature and to nurture your spirit at this stressful time. Whatever happens in the election, the Supreme Court deliberations and the course of the pandemic, we wish you strength and safekeeping to meet the challenges ahead.

Take care of yourself and check in on your neighbors. Hope to see you at one of our upcoming programs.

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