3-21-11: Health Care Reform, One Year Later
This week a year ago, President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. “As we mark the turning of spring, we also mark a new season in America,” he said. “In a few moments, when I sign this bill, all of the overheated rhetoric over reform will finally confront the reality of reform.”
A year later, what is that reality — and how is it affecting people here in Maryland? The legislation has a number of parts, some of which go into effect over the next 7 years (for a breakdown, take a look at this great timeline from the Kaiser Family Foundation). We take a close look at one part that has: a tax credit for small businesses that offer health benefits to their employees. Over 60,000 businesses in Maryland are eligible for the credit. Sheilah speaks with the manager of one: Marsha Geist, who runs Metropolitan Landscape Management, in Dayton, Maryland, with her husband. They do offer insurance to their employees–but says the tax credit would help them out lot.
Meanwhile, Bill Rhys, tax counsel for the National Federation of Independent Business, says the tax credit isn’t affecting that many businesses, nationwide. “They’re finding that for one reason or another, they’re finding that because either they employ too many workers or because they pay them too much, they’re finding that fall out of eligibility for the credit, or they’re getting a very minimal credit at best.”
Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown, who co-chairs Maryland’s Health Care Reform Coordinating Council, which is overseeing the adoption of this law, says that not enough small business owners know about the credit. In coordination with CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield and the Maryland Health Care for All! Coalition, he’s launching an education campaign to help them learn about it — complete with radio ads.
Sheilah asks the Lieutenant Governor about the campaign. She also speaks with him about the health care exchange bill that’s currently before the state legislature. It would establish a bare-bones structure for a health care exchange here in Maryland, opening the way to study how it would operate.
In this web extra, you can hear Lieutenant Governor Brown discuss insurance brokers’ reaction to the exchange’s creation.