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Rep. Holt Touts Benefits Of Health Reform Act

The Princeton Packet / PacketOnline — Thursday, May 20, 2010

By Lauren Otis, Staff Writer

PLAINSBORO — The recently passed federal health-care reform package, with its goal of nearly universal coverage, will change what it means to be an American, "just as in 1965 Medicare changed what it meant to be elderly in America," U.S. Rep. Rush Holt, D-12th, told executives and employees at Caliper Corp. headquarters Tuesday morning.

"What changes the most is the psychology, what it means to be an American," Rep. Holt said. "You can expect to have health-care coverage. You don't have to live in anxiety of losing your health-care coverage for your family. That is an enormous change," he said.

Rep. Holt spoke about aspects of the reform bill that will benefit area small businesses with fewer than 25 employees who provide insurance for employees, by offering a tax credit of 35 percent of health expenses, in addition to other features.

"Small businesses will get tax credits, larger businesses will have access to group rates," Rep. Holt said.

The reform law will also create a new marketplace enabling small businesses to band together to obtain lower rates large companies can currently obtain.

Crystal Snedden, small business organizer of New Jersey Citizen Action's Main Street Alliance, said among the group's 650 small business and sole proprietor members "the number one resounding issue always is health-care reform." She said the recent reform will be good for small businesses "across the board."

In addition to driving up the costs of already established small businesses, access to affordable health care "has been a big hindrance to entrepreneurs," Ms. Snedden said. She said the business community was stifled because would-be entrepreneurs often chose not to set out on their own because they could not obtain affordable coverage for their families.

Herb Greenberg, founder and CEO of Caliper, a human resource consulting firm, said his company saw a 28 percent rate increase for its health insurance in the last year. Mr. Greenberg asked what a medium-size company like his, which has about 100 employees, could do about this, and whether it could appeal if in the future it was again hit with a large increase.

Rep. Holt said premium rate reviews would be far more rigorous, with regulators having more power to intercede if health insurers raise rates too much.

"They will have real levers," he said, both to regulate and to review employer appeals. "Because Caliper is at the cusp, with 100 employees, it may be most of the benefit to Caliper will be the indirect benefit," of overall lowered costs and efficiencies as a result of the reform package, he said.

For individuals, too, "there will be a much improved appeal process for denial of coverage. It will be faster and more oriented toward the consumer," Rep. Holt said.

Noting that "any legislation is part principle and part prediction," Rep. Holt said of the current reform "it is worth noting that this is not the end all and be all."

Just as Medicare evolved and expanded since its inception in 1965 "through law and regulation, and that will happen here," Rep. Holt said.

He urged officials at Caliper to keep him apprised of how they are faring with their health-care plan, so future updates to the reform law might help them more.

"Keep in touch with me, let me know about it. A lot of these things have to be calculated for each company," he said.

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