Health Care & Health Insurance Committee Update
April 15, 2010

IRS Issues Small Business Health Insurance Tax Credit Guidance

A variety of federal agencies are in overdrive to issue guidance in compliance with the recently enacted federal Health Care Reform (HCR) law. The IRS has recently issued its information page for small businesses with relevant information on accessing the small business health insurance tax credit, effective in this calendar year. The IRS also has a handy one pager which walks you through the eligibility steps for calculating the potential tax credit.

Mercer has produced an equally valuable table which crosswalks the wage eligibility thresholds and size of firm requirements for the small business health insurance tax credit, to help small businesses do a very quick analysis on the tax credit threshold for which a firm is potentially eligible.

State Regulator To Speak to Health Care & Health Insurance Committee on HCR Impact

Troy Oechsner, Deputy Superintendent for Health at the New York State Insurance Department, will be speaking to the Business Council's Health Committee on May 5, 2010, starting at 1pm. Federal health care reform imposes many requirements on health plans, requiring state regulators to align their current mandates with new federal components. We have asked Troy to speak specifically on near term changes to state regulations and/or policy mandates resulting from federal health care reform (ie pre-existing conditions, any changes to young invincibles, etc); current DOI thinking on what health exchanges might look like and the roadmap to getting there; and any conformance issues DOI sees in implementing federal mental health parity regulations which were released in final format earlier this year.

Please join us for what will likely be a very lively discussion on how NYS intends to implement some of the employer and plan mandates found within the new federal bill.

Looking for Premium Relief? Don't Look to the State Capitol

As if the changes from the federal government were not enough, state legislators continue to grapple with state budget and policy issues which will drive up health insurance premiums in New York State. Whether it is expanding the HCRA surcharges, cost shifting of the state's Early Intervention program to the commercial insurance market, reducing (yet again) the Timothy's Law subsidy for small businesses, or enacting a new autism coverage mandate, each of these will have an immediate impact on premiums.

Employer-sponsored coverage continues to be the primary means through which New Yorkers access health insurance coverage. If these proposals become law, it will become increasingly difficult for many employers to continue to make this benefit available to their employees. The Business Council continues to lobby against these health-specific tax and coverage mandates, and urges members to keep up that pressure as well.