Westchester Business Leaders Weigh In On Obamacare One Year Later

Since its inception one year ago, the Affordable Care Act has garnered its fair share of both friends and foes. And many have expressed mixed feelings: support for the ideas behind the Act, but complaints about its execution, and concerns about its costs. Obamacare also presents both challenges and opportunities for local businesses seeking to provide health care coverage for their employees. 

A forum held earlier this month by the Business Council of Westchester took a look at the impact of Obamacare one year after its launch—and found that sentiments are still mixed.

Here is what some of the featured panelists had to say:

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Dennis Gonzalez, executive officer for Region 2 of the federal Health and Human Services Department, noted that roughly one-third of eligible Americans who were previously uninsured are now insured since the Affordable Health Care Act’s rollout. New enrollees also seem to be spending less money, he pointed out: seven out of 10 are paying $100 or less a month on their premiums. “It’s unrealistic to think the cost of health care is not going to go up next year,” added Gonzalez. “We’ve seen the lowest increase in health care premiums in 30 years.”

Danielle Holahan, Director of Policy and Planning, New York Health Exchange, offered these statistics: nearly 1 million New Yorkers enrolled in the New York Health Benefit Exchange in 2014, about 52% of which are from New York City. A statewide total of 3,106 businesses with 50 or fewer employees enrolled with insurance carriers offering plans on the exchange. Those businesses enrolled nearly 10,000 employees statewide. In Westchester County, 323 employees were covered in 2014 on group plans purchased on the Exchange. Holahan said the state has implemented a streamlined renewal process for individuals and businesses enrolled on the exchange. “There’s minimal change in the product offerings from last year, and that’s intentional,” she said.

Craig Hauben, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, North Shore LIJ CareConnect, explained that healthcare providers are looking into different ways of providing services to keep costs down. North Shore-LIJ recently launched its own insurance company called CareConnect to cut out middleman costs and provide a more personalized care.

Guy Leibler, President of Simone Healthcare Development, discussed his company’s responses to changes in the healthcare industry. Simone is developing mixed-use environments to take advantage of “people places” and provide a quality experience for the patient and co-visitors, he explained.

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The impact of the Affordable Care Act one year after its launch was the focus of a recent seminar held by The Business Council of Westchester. The event, which was held Nov. 20 at the Doubletree Hotel in Tarrytown, featured a panel of experts discussing the ACA’s impact on business. The Keynote Speaker was Dennis E. González, Executive Officer, Office of the Secretary, Region II, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Panelists included Elisabeth Benjamin, Vice President of Health Initiatives, Community Service Society of New York; Craig Hauben, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, North Shore LIJ CareConnect; Danielle Holahan, Director of Policy and Planning, New York Health Exchange; Guy Leibler, President, Simone Healthcare Development, and Mary Jane D. O’Connell, Ph.D., Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Fordham School of Professional and Continuing Studies. Pictured, from left, Craig Hauben, Elisabeth Benjamin, Danielle Holahan, Dennis E. González, Guy Leibler, Mary Jane D. O’Connell, Business Council of Westchester President and CEO Marsha Gordon, and Business Council of Westchester Executive Vice President John Ravitz.

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