Health Care Summit at Noto's Restaurant
GRAND RAPIDS TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WZZM) --
Thousands of West Michigan business owners are racing against the clock, trying to prepare for a day that's been in the calendar book for months.
October 1st is when health care exchanges go online as required under Obamacare.
"We all sort of know October 1st is the D-Day," said Ana Ramirez-Saenz. She runs Lafuente Consulting in Rockford, which helps non-English speaking businesses with strategic planning. But she needs help clarifying a few parts of the health care exchange so she can help employers.
"So if we found this confusing, imagine how confusing it would be for someone whose primary language is not English," she said.
She joined 200 other business leaders and community members at the Health Care Summit at Noto's Restaurant Friday, where health care professionals tried to bring people up to speed on new regulations. Kirk Roy with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan says many businesses across the state are just now realizing how much they have to learn.
"They're a little surprised at this point, and so I don't think we're all as ready as we should be," said Roy.
"They're asking, what rules apply to them, what does it do to my benefits, and what does it do to my cost," he said.
"How are the subsidies really going to impact us?" asked Ramirez-Saenz.
"They're worried about missing something and getting blindsided later," said Roy.
Businesses with more than 50 full-time employees get a one-year reprieve from penalties if they don't offer insurance, but even those with fewer than 50, like Noto's Old World Italian Dining owner Tony Noto, have an incentive to offer insurance to his employees.
He gets tax credits.
"We're hoping that we can come up with solutions that will make it affordable for a majority of our employees that are in need of health care benefits," said Noto.
He says not all of his questions are answered. In the end, every employers' circumstance is different.
The event was sponsored by the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce. Speakers included representatives from Priority Health, Mercy Health, and the Department of Community Health, and Representative Brandon Dillon.
Next Thursday, Sept. 26, WZZM 13 News will air a one-hour special focusing on the Affordable Care Act. The special airs 7-8 p.m. We will try to help you better understand the law and what it means to you.