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Public Policy

Roundtable discussion focuses on upcoming health care reform law

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This morning, NRF hosted Choice & Competition Coalition partners for a roundtable discussion on the looming deadlines and massive requirements of the health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The roundtable featured experts from NRF, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, and American Osteopathic Association, and focused on the urgent need for timely, simple and complete rules on the establishment of health insurance exchanges.

Unlike other laws, the health reform law is a little unusual in that it phases in over time, with various mandates and requirements implemented at different points all the way to 2018.

Of particular note to retailers and businesses is 2014. This is when the employer and individual mandate penalties become effective. This is also when the new health insurance exchanges or markets open-up on a state-by-state basis. Exchanges, government-regulated health insurance markets, were created to assist small businesses and individuals purchase more affordable health care coverage.

In preparation for the forthcoming federal regulation establishing exchanges, expected at the end of the February, NRF is working closely with a host of allies, Congress and the White House to ensure that the new exchanges are implemented efficiently, and preserve employers’ and individuals’ access and choice in shopping, comparing and purchasing health insurance coverage.

The timing of today’s Coalition roundtable couldn’t be better as the definition of the exchanges is running severely behind an already condensed implementation schedule.

As the health reform law continues to be implemented, the choreography over the next few weeks, months and years is going to be extremely delicate and interdependent, not unlike a fine timepiece. If the pieces are misaligned and the gears get sprung, employers, employees, individuals – and the whole health care system – will suffer.

To ensure that these exchange rules are not too restrictive or arbitrarily burdensome on employers, NRF is working through the Choice & Competition Coalition and other partners to encourage the Administration and the states to speed-up their development of the exchanges by setting timely, simple and complete rules that encourage affordable options for businesses and individuals.

This is but one point along a long regulatory road leading up to 2018, but as any watchmaker would tell you, it’s the fine points that must fit together perfectly in order to help the clock run on time. Health reform is certainly no exception.