By Beth Brelje Pocono Record Writer February 17, 2013
Full implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 is just 10 months away. Most businesses don’t know much about it, yet the implications could be huge, says Mike Sullivan, head of the Pike County Economic Development Authority. “Information is coming out in dribs and drabs,” Sullivan said. The Internal Revenue Service recently released figures for a “bronze” health care policy, the most moderate plan, which could cost $20,000 in 2016 for a family of four or five. Who pays for it? “That is still a mystery,” Sullivan said. “We think this is one of the most important issues businesses are facing.” Business owners don’t know what the plan will cost but some are concerned that they do not have a profit margin wide enough to cover it. Others are considering the financial penalties that come with growth. Businesses with more than 50 full-time employees must provide insurance. One Pike County business considering expanding from 38 to 70 employees would move into the coverage bracket, making expansion more costly than expected. The plan is one of the most sweeping changes since the enactment of Social Security that is about to descend on American business and yet, little is known about it, Sullivan said.
The Pike County Chamber of Commerce is offering a 90-minute seminar on the issue Feb. 28. The seminar will feature three speakers: Joseph Sileo is an attorney with McNees, Wallace & Nurick in Scranton, which specializes in this new law and other labor and management issues. He and his colleagues, Jennifer LaPorta Baker and Jennifer Walsh, will be on hand to address issues facing small and medium-sized businesses. Also presenting will be Jeff Haudenschield, co-founder of The Benefits Group. A representative from the certified public accounting firm Judelson, Giardino & Siegel, will address the fiscal implications of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. This session is designed to educate businesses about the practical steps they should be taking now in order to stay on top of compliance in 2013 and 2014. Topics will include the definition and importance of full-time employment status under the act; an update on Pennsylvania’s approach to establishing a health care exchange; and a review of important deadlines over the next few years.