Last week Healthcare Reform legislation was finally made into law. It's no secret that I've been a big proponent of this idea and written several blog posts on how healthcare reform will affect healthcare staffing agencies. Although I'm happy this legislation exists and will hopefully continue to improve I am disappointed it didn't go far enough. My hope was that we would have a universal healthcare system with coverage for all. Not yet it seems.
I've already blogged about how I believe healthcare reform will benefit the healthcare staffing industry and mentioned articles where some of the nation's largest medical staffing agency CEOs also state that healthcare reform will benefit the industry. Therefore, there's no reason to repeat myself. Now that the legislation is on the books and more details are known, I'm sticking with my prediction that this legislation will be positive for the healthcare staffing industry.
Of course, how this legislation is carried out will determine the exact changes we all see and feel. There are several sources around the web that have posted summaries on some of the most immediate changes the healthcare reform legislation will make.
To me, the biggest question here is about the cost and potential tax increases we will all face as individuals and businesses. According to this interactive tool from the Washington Post, neither my premiums nor my personal taxes will increase due to healthcare reform. The really good news is that my premiums were expected to rise between 10-15% before "Obamacare," so I'm going to see this as being positive.
For businesses, it now appears that not providing health insurance to your employees will earn you a penalty. It will be interesting to see if this legislation changes the classifications or definitions of employees as to when insurance has to be provided. However, most large companies already provide insurance for all of their internal employees and offer it as a benefit to their field staff who meet qualifying hours. Therefore, there should be no impact to most healthcare staffing agencies in this regard. For new and small healthcare staffing companies (under 50 employees) there is even better news. Not only will these companies avoid potential penalties for lack of employee insurance provisions, they can qualify for stipends to provide insurance to their employees. This will offer tremendous assistance to start-up companies who otherwise couldn't offer coverage.
Unfortunately, big businesses will most likely see a tax increase to help pay for all the new legislation. Although I'm not a fan of paying more in taxes, I'm also not 'anti-tax' across the board. Paying taxes for certain things that benefit society, such as healthcare, is a good thing. I'm one of those crazies that believes in the greater good so I'm willing to pay a little more for it.
Many people disagree with this view completely and feel that healthcare reform is nothing short of socialism and the end of the American Empire. During a recent webinar hosted by the Staffing Industry Analysts, many CEO's of large staffing companies were discussing how detrimental this legislation will be to their business and all the other horrible things healthcare reform will bring. I've even had people on my blog leave comments and send me emails suggesting the same. For example, Randy Mensinger from Custom Healthcare left a comment on one of my healthcare reform blog posts stating he feels this will put the company he works for (and many others) out of business. He was so upset with my opinion that he even followed up on my comment with an email full of obscenities and calling me all kinds of things I won't repeat here.
So obviously not everyone shares my opinion. I'm willing to admit I could be wrong. If I am and businesses have to start carrying such a heavy tax burden that it puts them out of business I'll be right back here advocating against healthcare reform. I completely respect an opposing view and honest debate on healthcare reform. However, there are several things I don't understand, such as:
- Being disrespectful and unprofessional to each other. It doesn't matter who you are, but, if you work for or represent a staffing company in our small industry I don't think it benefits you in any way to be unprofessional and disrespectful.
- Where was the vociferous anti-tax movement during the bush years when we were spending trillions of dollars on an unjust war that was started for made up reasons? Perhaps if we hadn't spent so much money then (and now) we'd have money for things like healthcare for our citizens.
- Many people are up in arms about the mandate that every American will be required to have health insurance. However, the health insurance mandates are actually a Republican idea. These mandates are only going to benefit the health insurance industry and those politicians beholden to this industry. So clearly their outcry is merely political posturing.
- Even if you're against the new legislation what exactly is getting people so angry about healthcare reform? How is providing health coverage to our citizens something to get violent over?
No matter how you feel, what we all really need is information, facts and a real debate. Much of the information coming from the media is full of sensational, unfounded claims. It's not only irresponsible, it's dangerous. Unfortunately, without reinstating the Fairness Doctrine it's only going to get worse. For example, this video:
I'm all for free speech but when this much hateful, misinformed rhetoric is pumped through the media for several hours a day, every day, it's no wonder people are resorting to violence against members of congress over something like healthcare reform. There are many reasons justifying the call for revolution. However, I assure you, healthcare reform is not one of them.
In summary, I truly believe that healthcare reform will benefit us as individuals and as a country. It will be a huge win for the healthcare staffing industry. That said, I'm not a fan of the government and will watch the outcomes of this legislation closely and with a critical eye. I am also willing to admit when I'm wrong. Therefore, if the sky starts falling or we witness the collapse and devastation of the medical staffing industry, you'll see me at the next tea party rally.
I hope the opposite is also true. If you're an opponent of this legislation and none of these horrible things come to pass it would be great to hear you admit you were wrong someday.
Time will tell.