A number of health reform developments to note:
1. Section 125s: On Friday April 27th, the Connector Board held a hearing on its regulations implementing Chapter 58’s requirement that employers with 11 or more employees offer their employees with access to a Section 125 Plan (allowing their employees to pay for health insurance with pre-tax payroll deductions). The Connector had issued emergency regulations on March 20th, which are currently in effect. The ACT!! Coalition offered both written and oral testimony. Also testifying were representatives of Taft-Hartley union plans, small employers and Chambers of Commerce.
Most testifiers, including ACT!!, expressed general support of the regulations but asked that the Board consider making a few tweaks. Our key point is that the employer plans should be required to allow workers to purchase Commonwealth Care and Commonwealth Choice plans. Giving low-income workers pre-tax access to Commonwealth Care, in particular, will help moderate the high premiums for those paying the highest premiums. You can read our testimony here.
2. Fair Share regulations: The Division of Unemployment Assistance, which enforces the fair share assessment (the $295 per worker annual charge on firms with 11 or more workers that don’t provide “fair and reasonable” coverage) has issued draft regulations on how firms will calculate and pay the assessment. A hearing on the regulations will be on May 24.
You can read the regulations and hearing notice here. (Thanks to Monica Halas of Greater Boston Legal Services for forwarding her copy of the regulations. We couldn’t find them on the DUA web site.)
3. Employer Guides: A number of law firms and employer consultants are writing guides for employers on how to comply with the health reform law. It’s critical that people seek out the most current information available. For example, the Connector itself has an employer handbook, available here. However, the Connector’s guide is marked draft, and is dated February 15, 2007.
More current is a clear and comprehensive guide by State Representative Martha Walz, a lawyer with the Boston office of Littler Mendelson, a national labor law firm. Click here to read. Even more cutting edge is an informative and reassuring podcast from the Boston law firm Mintz Levin, featuring Alden Bianchi, a lawyer who advised the Governor and legislature during the drafting of chapter 58. Their accompanying employer guide is updated to April 20, 2007.