Last Wednesday, August 14, the City of Moody along with St. Clair County hosted an educational session dealing with the impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on local government and individuals. The session was open to all local officials and their staff. Matt Stiles of Lehr, Middlebrooks and Vreeland was the speaker for the event.
Stiles began his presentation by laying out what he says was the intention of ACA. He said that the goal was obviously to get all Americans insured. This was to happen by providing those individuals with low incomes with free health insurance, insured through Medicaid expansion.
Part of the original intent also included providing individuals with multiple choices when purchasing qualified health insurance at competitive prices through Exchanges. Stiles described these Exchanges as being somewhat similar to Hotwire.com. He made this comparison because like the popular travel site, an individual goes online and enters the amount that he or she can pay and what he or she is looking for, and then the Exchange provides a list of qualified matches.
The original intent of ACA included Exchange access for purchasing group health insurance for small businesses as well. Stiles also mentioned reduced cost by managing care and growing American jobs through better benefit options as part of the plan’s original intent.
Stiles said that all of these intentions centered on the fact that a vast number of uninsured Americans had been using healthcare in an inefficient way. Stiles said that the belief was that getting these people in the system would help everything run more efficiently.
Stiles agreed that the motivation behind the intended ACA was good. However, “What ACA intended is not what ACA has become,” Stiles said.
He presented ACA statistics that indicated 60-80 million uninsured adults remain in the U.S. Stiles also included that Medicaid will not expand in most states and that the Exchanges are over-burdened, running behind schedule and do not offer very many benefit options.
Furthermore, small business exchange access has been delayed. Stiles said that costs have increased for various reasons, and American jobs have been lost through cost containment and attempts to avoid ACA mandates.
Though original intentions have obviously not panned out according to plan, ACA continues. Stiles said that all employers in the U.S. have been mandated to communicate healthcare options with all employees by Oct. 1. Starting Jan. 1, 2014, each individual taxpayer must have and maintain throughout the tax year “minimum essential coverage.” Without this coverage an individual will have to pay a penalty in 2014 equal to the greater of one percent of gross income or $95, two percent or $325 in 2015 and 2.5 percent or $695 in 2016.