The Health-Care Reform bill, and the Reconciliation bill that made changes to it, were recently signed by the President into law. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA, P.L. 111-148) and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act (HCERA, P.L. 111-152) will have a significant impact on the collectively bargained plans sponsored by SMACNA contractors.
Provisions in PPACA and HCERA make important changes to plan benefit design rules, tax law and the Medicare program. Many of the changes will be effective in the near-term or within the next few years. Links to two different summaries of the new law follow. Both links include changes made by the reconciliation bill (HCERA).
Be aware that the law is both long and complex, current interpretations are subject to change, and regulations are still to be drafted by the Department of Labor (DOL), Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which will give further guidance and clarification to the law.
For more detailed information about how the law will impact health plans that you contribute to, SMACNA encourages your attendance at the Washington National Issues Conference in May. James Ray of James Ray Law PLLC, an expert in the field of employee benefits, ERISA, and collective bargaining, will be a featured speaker. Mr. Ray was closely involved in the health-care reform legislative process. He will address the law’s impact on collectively bargained plans and will answer specific questions about how the law will affect your company.
To view summaries of the new law see the Segal Company Summary and the Kaiser Family Foundation Summary.
The Merkley amendment strongly endorsed by SMACNA to establish a separate small business size standard for the construction industry was removed during the reconciliation process. The provision would have addressed some of the cost-shifting issues that increase premiums and health-care costs that directly affect the competitiveness of construction contractors who provide health care. SMACNA will continue its efforts to secure a separate size standard for the construction industry.
For more information on the health-care law, contact the SMACNA Legislative Office at (202) 547.8202.