“A timeline for health care reform”
By Paul Frumkin ( Nations Restaurant News)
NEW YORK (April 5, 2010) As the federal health care insurance reform measure emerges from months of rancorous legislative turmoil, industry experts are beginning to understand how and when the sweeping law will impact the foodservice business.
“Many [restaurateurs] think they will be severely impacted by the way the law gets rolled out,” said Scott DeFife, executive vice president of policy and government affairs for the National Restaurant Association.
However, DeFife, who participated in the “What Healthcare Reform Means for Retail” webinar hosted Monday by Morgan Stanley, noted that the new law will not affect all restaurateurs equally.
IN DEPTH: Purchase NRN’s special report, “Operators fear rising health care costs will stunt growth,” on RetailNet. For more coverage on health care reform, click here.
DeFife said many large chains already offer employees some form of insurance while the “vast majority” of the industry comprises small businesses that will be exempted under the law. The measure, he continued, will have the most impact on larger multiunit independents or franchisees with between five and 10 outlets.
“The rub comes in the middle,” he said. “Those operators will be asking themselves, ‘Should I grow or not?'”
The protracted introduction of the new law also will affect the impact. During the webinar, Kim Monk, managing director of the Capital Alpha Partners consulting group, sketched out a partial timeline for the law’s implementation:
- 2010: Small businesses with up to 25 workers will get tax credits to help provide coverage; health insurers will be required to maintain dependent coverage for children up to 26 years old.
- 2011: Employers will be required to report the value of existing health care benefits on W-2 forms.
- 2012: “It’s a quiet year; it’s an election year,” Monk said.
- 2013: Flexible spending accounts, or FSAs, will be capped at $2,500 a year; Medicare payroll taxes on couples making more than $250,000 and individuals earning more than $200,000 will be raised.
- 2014: Employer and individual mandates kick in; insurers prohibited from denying coverage to individuals with pre-existing medical problems; states create new health insurance exchanges.
- 2018: Tax imposed on high-cost “Cadillac” health care plans.
Participants of the webinar also detailed some victories and losses for the retail and restaurant industries in the recent legislative battle.
DeFife praised the provision enabling employers to wait 90 days before having to offer insurance to employees.
Sarah Arbes, vice president of government affairs for the Retail Industry Leaders Association, underscored the importance of establishing new, more business-friendly definitions of what constitutes part-time employees and seasonal or temporary workers.
However, Arbes, whose group finally opposed the passage of the bill, pointed out that it did not do enough “to reduce systemic costs.”