Legislative Update – February 2020

MA Senate Releases Mental Health Access Bill (SB-2519)
On February 6th the Senate released the second of three major health insurance reform bills, SB-2519, improving access to mental health care in Massachusetts. Our members are aware of the shortcomings our clients face in accessing mental health services, but we are also concerned for the impact on health insurance costs without responsible legislation. If you would like to help our legislative committee formulate our position on SB-2519, and on mental health issues in general, please contact our state legislative chair, Joe Lawler today.

Merged Market Advisory Council Update
The Merged Market Advisory Council, created as part of the Governor’s health reform initiative, is taking a deep dive into the history and the mechanics of the merged market. It’s an educational process for anyone who hasn’t lived through several versions of MA health reform, or who needs a refresher on how we got to where we are today. Each meeting’s agenda is focused on specific issues and how they impact the merged market. Jack Bartley attended the February 5th meeting and shared his notes with us in this update.

The next few meetings will include discussion of self-funding, PEO’s, association health plans, ICHRA, ACA rating factors, etc. Kevin Beagan has asked council members to invite specialists in any area of business relating to each week’s agenda to attend, so if you are or know someone who is a self-funding specialist or PEO expert, etc., tell them about the meetings.

We encourage brokers and their small group clients to attend the council’s meetings and public forums. To view the schedule, visit their web page.

What’s Your Opinion?
Participate in our new member survey. Just one question in each newsletter. We’ll share the results in our next update.

Do you think Massachusetts should demerge the individual and small group market?
Click here to vote Yes or No.

A Toast to Brews & Beacon Hill!
We had a great turnout at our Legislative Social Hour at Trillium Brewing on Thursday evening, February 13th. President Matt Shadrick introduced our lobbyist Jack Bartley, who laid out the landscape for 2020 and what we need to do to effect change. Jack emphasized that our outreach efforts are directed to key legislators in both the House and the Senate, as bills must be heard and passed in each chamber before proceeding to the Governor’s office.

Over 60 brokers and guests attended the event, and according to our accounts, everyone had a great time catching up with colleagues, networking and comparing notes on their favorite brews. Armored with strong interest in helping advocate for legislation that improves the market in Massachusetts, we are grateful to our newest members to the association and to our political action committee. Thank you and we will be calling on you to help in our outreach efforts!

Capitol Conference February 23-26th
NAHU Capitol Conference is quickly approaching, with President Matt Shadrick and Federal Legislative Co-Chairs Eric Gulko and Bill Stuart heading to D.C., along with board members Mark Gaunya and Dave Shore. During Capitol Conference, they will hear from legislators, political analysts, regulatory agencies, and our NAHU staff on current issues. We’re also meeting with representatives on Capitol Hill, including Congressman Rich Neal, who chairs the very influential House Ways & Means Committee.

After several years in the works, we finally saw the full repeal of the Cadillac and HIT taxes this year, and through the diligent work of our NAHU staff and our member outreach to our federal legislators, we are continuing to work on some key issues which we feel can be accomplished in spite of the partisanship in Congress, including 1) Surprise Medical Billing resolution; 2) Administrative Simplification for Employers under ACA; 3) Medicare/COBRA eligibility fix. We look forward to hearing a report from our leadership when they return.

Are you receiving your weekly NAHU Legislative Updates?
Every Friday afternoon, NAHU Government Affairs team sends out its Washington Update to members. It’s a great way to keep abreast of what’s going on in D.C. and to proactively take steps in your own organization to prepare and deliver information to your clients.

To dig deeper into current topics impacting you and your clients, be sure to check out the monthly webinars – if you miss the live webinar, you can always catch the recording at https://nahu.org/resources/publications/webinars.

The Road to Ithaka ICHRA
“When you set out for Ithaka ask that your way be long, full of adventure, full of instruction.”

We’re not sure if the road to ICHRA is going to be short or long, straightforward or devious, but we do know that you will need a good set of instructions if you’re embarking on a plan to offer an Individual Contribution HRA to your clients this year. Employers can establish ICHRA plans as of January 1, 2020 by way of executive order rolling back the ACA prohibition on funding or reimbursing individual health plans for their employees.

The path is not 100% cleared, as ICHRA is tangled up in the court battle over individual mandates, but that is not hindering the development of products and platforms to serve the ICHRA market. We’re reaching out to several players in the MA market to get a firm understanding of the ICHRA rules and to identify the opportunities for employers large and small. Stay tuned for more information in the next several weeks.

Compliance Update
It’s back to school for everyone it seems, trying to learn the nuances of setting up the new ICHRA plans for our employer clients. MassAHU’s compliance consultant, Rick Szczebak, has written a timely compliance update on the new ICHRA plans. Click here to read the update and be sure to mark your calendar to attend our Panel Discussion on ICHRA at Benefest.

SAVE THE DATE! BENEFEST is May 7th!

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Legislative Update – January 2020

It may be the middle of winter, but things are heating up in the Massachusetts Legislature! MassAHU’s Winter 2020 Legislative Update will help you stay connected with your Legislative Team at MassAHU. If you have questions, comments, or are interested in getting more involved with our legislative agenda at MassAHU, please email us at info@massahu.org.

Brews & Beacon Hill on February 13th
Legislative advocacy can involve some heavy lifting, swift responses, collaboration and negotiation. But it’s not all work and no play! Our upcoming event “Brews & Beacon Hill” is proof of that.
We hope you replied to our recent invitation to join us on Thursday, February 13th at Trillium Brewing in Canton. Please come! Invite a colleague or two for a fun and informative happy hour with our lobbyist, Jack Bartley. Beer and munchies are on us. If you misplaced your invitation, here is a link to Register Today!

MA Legislature Holds Hearing on Governor Baker’s Omnibus Health Care Bill (H-4134)
The MA Joint Committee on Health Care Financing held a public hearing on H-4134 on January 28th. Governor Baker and HHS Secretary Sudders testified on the main provisions of the bill released last fall by the Baker Administration. Several healthcare organizations testified at the hearing, as well as the Massachusetts Association of Health Plans (MAHP).
While most of the testimony was in favor of the bill’s intent, the ‘devil’ will be in the details of any reform as it impacts healthcare costs. MassAHU’s legislative team is in discussion with other stakeholders as we draft our own position on these key issues. We are also reaching out to influential members in the legislature to engage in discussion of the issues and our concerns for the market and our clients.
Jack Bartley will go into more specifics at our February 13th event regarding the anticipated outcome of H-4134 and other legislation being considered by the House and the Senate.

MassAHU Participates in Merged Market Advisory Council
Governor Baker’s healthcare bill was accompanied by Executive Order 589 for the creation of a Merged Market Advisory Council. The council will make recommendations for ensuring the sustainability and affordability of the small group market in Massachusetts.
MassAHU was instrumental in securing representation on the council. Of the five brokers whose names we submitted for consideration, Mark Gaunya of Borislow Insurance Agency in Methuen, MA and Rose Lopes of the Sylvia Group in Dartmouth, MA were selected as the two brokers to join the 13-member council.
Public information sessions will be held in several locations around the state, and we encourage you and your small employer clients to attend these forums. For a full listing of the council members and a schedule of meetings and public information sessions, visit the state’s website.

Election Year Campaigns Abound!
Since this is an election year, we anticipate being invited to several fundraisers this winter/spring. Our lobbyist, Jack Bartley, is also securing appointments with some key legislators in the state. If you would like to attend any of these events, or if you know of a local event which you would like to tell us about so that we can support your legislator, please let us know.
We are asking all our members to help in our outreach efforts by sharing your home address so that we can enlist your help in contacting your legislators on specific issues as the need arises. Please send an email with your address so that we can add this important information to your NAHU profile.

MA PFMLA Reporting Deadline is January 31st
The employer reporting deadline for the first quarterly reporting under MA PFMLA is this week. Our compliance expert Rick Sczcebak offers up the MA DOR’s tips (along with his own commentary) to share with your clients in this Members-Only Compliance Update. Click here to read his update.

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