Boston Herald: Gov owes Obamacare diagnosi$

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Op-Ed by Mary Connaughton & Josh Archambault

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Think because you live in Massachusetts you’re protected from the Obamacare insurance premium spikes that you have seen in the national news?

Think again, especially if you work at a small company.

Ineffective cash-flow management is the No. 1 cause of business failure and layoffs. Regrettably, Massachusetts government leaders are making it even harder for companies to forecast cash flow because of the commonwealth’s opaqueness in implementing President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

And our leaders know it.

According to a study commissioned by the state, massive ACA-related health insurance increases loom over small businesses because the federal government is forcing our insurers to use only four “rating” factors instead of our current eight.

In a letter sent late last year to federal officials our own leaders warned, “While many individuals and small group members in the commonwealth will see premium decreases, a significant number will see extreme premium increases as a result of these changes [emphasis added].”

Yet the full report and details of what is coming for small business remain shielded in the nooks of the State House, leaving Bay State businesses in the dark.

Wouldn’t sharing the underlying report with the public help businesses better forecast their employment costs and make better-informed business decisions? Isn’t that information businesses need to know as they come up for air after the worst economic downturn in over 70 years?

As business schools often profess, knowledge is the key to mitigating business risk. But evasive actions by those under the Golden Dome may translate into bad surprises for some of the state’s employers.

Pioneer Institute has obtained tables from one of the reports that show hundreds of thousands of small-business employees will see double-digit increases up to 21 percent over the next three years. This is 21 percent on top of the highest premiums in the country, and does not include the impact of any of the new taxes in Obamacare.

In an attempt to avoid these severe hikes, the Patrick administration rightfully requested a federal waiver from the portion of ACA that mandates how rates can be calculated. The governor believed the status quo in Massachusetts was satisfactory when it comes to protecting the public from unfair classifications.

That request was denied.

The Patrick administration touts its transparency, and now it has a meaningful opportunity for its deeds to live up to its words by releasing the information about impending rate hikes.

For the state’s businesses, time is running out.

Mary Connaughton is director of finance and administration and Josh Archambault is director of health care policy at Pioneer Institute, a Boston-based think tank. 

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