Posted by: brucestein | January 27, 2012

Another Panel Appearance

Once again, I was invited to serve as a panelist on a webinar. The focus this time:  CEO/Executive Perspectives on the State of the Healthcare Industry.  We discussed a variety of topics, including healthcare reform, consumer driven healthcare, and affordability.

For today’s blog I will confine my comments to one of the questions posed during the webinar: “If there is a change to the make-up of the federal government next November, what regulatory changes would you like to see put into effect for 2013 and beyond?” Isn’t that a loaded question?! Right now, the Republicans control the House, while the Senate and the White House are controlled by the Democrats. So, for any kind of radical change, wouldn’t the Republicans have to take control of all three? And with enough seats to make it filibuster safe? Even with a new Congress, it seems more than obvious that it will be well into 2013 before something could occur.

I don’t read crystal balls, nor does anyone at TASC, where we operate on the concept that most provisions of the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (PPACA), if not all, will prevail in one form or another. I expect tweaks. Tweaks are not new in our industry; they are inevitable and have been going on as long as I’ve been in this business. I don’t foresee any tweaks that will materially shift the current regulations.

The moderator pushed the issue a little further, and asked “Suppose the make-up of federal government does change significantly after the next election; what would TASC like to see happen?”  That’s an interesting and complicated proposition. In that circumstance, TASC would like to see the following:

  • Clarity regarding the upcoming cap on health Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs). TASC’s position is that the cap goes into effect for Plan Years starting in February of 2013 or after.
  • A permanent exemption on the annual limit requirement affecting Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs).
  • An ultimate plan for the W-2 requirement. We would like to see companies with fewer than 250 employees exempted from the requirement, along with some consistency in the requirement for those with more than 250 employees.
  • Removal of the mandate that restricts over-the-counter medications from inclusion in FSAs and HRAs.  This removal would result in a better value proposition for consumers, and would remove a lot of confusion in the market.
  • I admit that it’s not likely to happen anytime soon (or that it will garner much attention whatsoever before 2013).  Nevertheless, it would be advantageous to many if the employee-funded portion of an FSA were stripped from the 2018 Cadillac tax calculation.

During the webinar we were also asked to discuss these questions: What does the future hold for private and public exchanges? What do you see as the most important areas of focus for healthcare technology and service organizations which cater to the consumer driven healthcare market?  What is your outlook on the future for healthcare accounts and healthcare payments? 

If you want to hear our answers, you can listen to the entire one-hour webinar by following this link:

https://fisglobalinfo.webex.com/fisglobalinfo/lsr.php?AT=pb&SP=EC&rID=5178607&rKey=7780d08e92548bc3


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