AUSTIN, Texas (4/29/11)--Credit unions should proceed with changes required by the Health Reform Law despite the legal challenges the law faces, a CUNA Mutual employee benefits product manager told a Texas Credit Union League annual meeting audience Wednesday.
CUNA Mutual Group’s Brad Pricer, senior manager of employee benefits product management, discusses the Health Care Reform Law with a breakout session audience Wednesday at the Texas Credit Union League Meeting and Expo in Austin, Texas. (Photo provided by CUNA Mutual Group)
Passed just over a year ago, the Health Care Reform Law mandated sweeping changes for health and welfare plans, said Brad Pricer, CUNA Mutual senior manager of employee benefits product management. But legal challenges have left some employers unsure how to proceed with those changes. A recent federal court decision in Florida found the law to be unconstitutional. “There are approximately 25 lawsuits filed by numerous states challenging the constitutionality of various provisions of the health care reform laws, creating much political discussion and an uncertain path for business owners and employees,” Pricer said. Despite the legal limbo, Pricer stressed that employers should begin or continue compliance efforts. “The decision in Florida clearly states that the health care reform laws are still in effect,” Pricer said. “It is important to understand that this decision is not settled as appeals are almost certain to take place.” Pricer highlighted some key provisions of the Health Care Reform Law scheduled to go into effect this year:
* Consumer rebates for excessive medical loss ratios are available; * Employers may optionally report health coverage costs on form W-2; * “Qualified medical expenses” now conform to a definition used for the itemized tax deduction; * Employees need a prescription to be reimbursed for over-the-counter medications/supplies through some health plans; * A Simple Cafeteria Plan is created to provide small businesses an easier way to sponsor a cafeteria plan; * Medicare Part D discounts are instituted; and * Grants for wellness programs are established.
With all of the required changes, many credit union human resource directors and their staffs are feeling overwhelmed with the complexities associated with understanding and accurately applying the new health-care reform laws, Pricer said. “They are being inundated daily with paperwork, forms, compliance mandates and deadlines and don’t feel they have ample time or manpower to manage it effectively,” he said. “But it’s a challenge you don’t have to take on alone.” CUNA Mutual has programs, products and resources to help navigate health care reform, Pricer said. These include:
* Online tools--timelines, legislative briefs, model notices and forms; * Answers and personal assistance from CUNA Mutual’s Employee Benefits Advocacy Center; and * Personalized consultation from employee-benefits professionals.