Report for New Mexico NAHU Members on NAHU Capitol Conference
By Sherrie Williams, Legislative Chair
From February 22 to the 25th, your New Mexico Chapter members, Lametria Davis, President-Elect; Janelle Brookhouser, Regional Media Chair; Chris Will, Membership Chair; and Sherrie Williams, Legislative Chair attended the annual Washington DC NAHU Capitol Conference. The “CapCon” was based at the Hyatt Regency located a few blocks from the Capitol. The Conference was both an opportunity to hear from some of the key players implementing and analyzing the Affordable Care Act and to consult with our Congressional Delegation Members and their staffs.
The messages from multiple speakers were much of the ACA is here to stay regardless of the pending Supreme Court decision, ACA is dramatically changing our industry, we need to influence its implementation to the extent we can, and meanwhile we must adapt our businesses to survive.
As an example, Kevin Counihan, CEO of “healthcare.gov”, told the 800 attendees that heathcare.gov had enrolled over 11 million people during open enrollment for 2015 and that most of the website’s technical problems had been work out. However, he said agents and brokers are still essential to helping individuals find the right products for their particular situations. He promised future dedicated agent lines or portals, enhanced price transparency, and improved on line consumer educational aids.
Keynote speaker, David Houle, a futurist and author of Entering the Shift Age and The New Health Age predicted that the health care industry including the broker and agents businesses will change radically over the next five years. Only those who stay flexible, adapt rapidly to change, and make their businesses much more efficient with lower overhead will succeed. He emphasized that our typical business models which have worked in the past will not work for the immediate future.
On Capitol Hill, your New Mexico Chapter delegates met with Representative Stevan Pearce, Representative Michelle Lujan Grisham, and Senator Martin Heinrich and their staffs. Legislative Director Graham Mason met with us in behalf of Representative Ben Ray Lujan who was not available. As might be anticipated, Representative Pearce was supportive of major changes to ACA, even repeal; whereas, other Delegation Members were more interest in fine tuning the implementation of the existing ACA law. However, we found all of our Delegation with whom we met to be good listeners to our concerns and they asked serious questions.
Our key messages to our Delegation Members and staffs were the following:
---Elimination of the planned expansion of the small employer marketplace to 1-100 employees in 2016 which will cause significant price increases for the majority of small and mid-sized employer group health plans.
--Changes needed to how group policies are structured and priced, including limits on composite pricing for all employees of small businesses.
--Legislation to simplify and improve the employer reporting requirement to allow reporting to be done on a prospective basis.
--Ensuring that consumers have the ability to elect the assistance of a health insurance professional at any time in the health coverage process, with that decision recorded.
In this article we cannot do justice to all the information both learned and shared so please, do not hesitate to talk with any of our attendees for more information on specific topics. We need all of you to engage with our local, state, and national leaders from New Mexico to help them understand the impacts of ACA on our businesses and its practical effects on access for New Mexicans to quality, economical insurance and health services.