MEMBER UPDATE - JUNE 2021
We hope you are getting back into the swing of things at work and at play, as more people become vaccinated and the risks of serious illness diminish. Since our last email update, MassAHU has been busy keeping abreast of changes in the market, reviewing proposed legislation, and strategizing for the future. Please read on to see what we've been up to.
Thank you, President Shadrick!
Matt Shadrick, who will be completing his two-year term as president of MassAHU in July, had a leadership experience none of us could have imagined. In spite of the difficulties we all faced in doing business over the past year, he brought us through the year strong and vital, with optimism for the road ahead. Please join us in expressing our gratitude and appreciation for his leadership – which fortunately is not over, as he will continue to serve on the Board of Directors as our Immediate Past President.
New Slate of Directors Proposed for July 1, 2021
Succession planning is important to building and maintaining strong organizations, whether business, community, or professional organizations like ours. The MassAHU Board of Directors has given much consideration to our future leadership in this year's nominations. The board is proposing a slate of officers and directors, which we will now present to our full membership for a vote of acceptance. Normally, this is done in person at Benefest, but we are asking for an email vote in the absence of a live meeting.
If you are a current member of MassAHU, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, indicating that you either APPROVE or DO NOT APPROVE of the proposed leadership. Please do so by June 29, 2021. The proposed slate is attached here for your review. Send your vote in today!
The proposed officers are:
Bill Stuart, President;
Eric Gulko, Vice President;
Matt Shadrick, Immediate Past President;
Joe Lawler, Treasurer; and
Greg Puig, Secretary.
We are pleased that all of our current Directors are remaining on the Board, and that we will be adding two new members – Brian Garity, CEO of Garity Advantage, and TJ Hannon, President of New England Enrollment Strategies. With the addition of Brian and TJ, we are enhancing our industry focus to include the growing market for Medicare and Senior Products, as well as the growth in Voluntary Worksite Products.
Hats off to our new President, Bill Stuart, our newest members Brian and TJ, and all of our dedicated Board of Directors. Thank you for stepping up to meet the needs of our professional association!
State Legislative Update
For those of you who attended our Zoom Tuesday program in March, you now have a better understanding of the legislative process and the sheer volume of bills that are introduced into the legislature every year. With over 600 dockets filed for the biennial session (2021-2022), it is a huge undertaking to go through the bills, identify those that are significant to our association, establish our position on issues, identify stakeholders and key legislators, and implement a strategy for influencing the outcome. As a refresher for those who attended, and as a primer for those who did not, here is the PowerPoint presentation from the program.
The full Legislative Committee met again on June 17th to dive into the key focus areas we've identified – mental health, provider reimbursements, prescription drugs, market reform, market oversight/regulations, and mandated benefits. Anyone who is interested in helping to research and develop our position and talking points on any of the key focus areas, please email us at email@example.com, to be part of the focus group. We're hoping to have our draft position statements completed within the next several weeks, so we really appreciate hearing from members who may have special interest or experience in these areas.
In May, Legislative Chair Eric Gulko testified before the Joint Committee on Financial Services. This is a very important committee within the MA Legislature, and is headed by Representative James (Jamie) Murphy and Senator Brendan Crighton. After having met with Jamie Murphy last year, Eric had an opportunity to (re)acquaint the committee with MassAHU, what we do, and whom we represent. We are following up with a thank-you note to all the committee members with our contact information as we lay the groundwork for connecting with legislators on issues of importance in the future.
Also in May, MassAHU signed onto a letter with MAHP opposing several amendments filed in the Senate version of the budget. That letter is attached HERE. In a vote just before Memorial Day, all but one of the amendments we opposed were withdrawn, providing a significant victory for our efforts and those of MAHP and other groups who signed on. To the extent that we can influence the outcome of future budget and legislation, we will monitor and weigh in on issues of significance to our market.
Federal Legislative Update
Are you wondering what the broker compensation disclosure requirements are going to be when they become effective at the end of this year? There is a lot of ambiguity in the language, and there is a lot of concern for the administrative nightmare that can develop if the regulations are not well thought out. NAHU issued comments to HHS/DOL earlier this month. We are anxious to see what the response is, so that we, our employer clients and our carrier partners can establish reporting. But in the meantime, if you'd like to see where some of those stumbling blocks may be, here is a copy of NAHU's letter. Marcy Buckner also addressed this topic in NAHU Power Hour this month. If you missed it, be sure to look for the recording on the NAHU website.
On the Medicare front, bipartisan legislation has been introduced to address Medicare benefits eligibility for skilled nursing care following a hospitalization. If you are in the Medicare market, or if you have ever had a loved one who got 'caught' in being classified in observation status (vs. admitted as an inpatient), you are familiar with the 3-day rule. The proposed legislation will fix this problem, and we're asking members and their clients, friends and family members to support this legislation through Operation Shout, using these links:
Link to House Operation Shout: https://nahu.quorum.us/campaign/33575/
Link to Senate Operation Shout: https://nahu.quorum.us/campaign/33822/
As we look to July 1st, we want to extend best wishes to Mark Gaunya, past president of MassAHU and current member of our Board of Directors, as he leads the NAHU Legislative Council for the next year. We're fortunate to have a 'direct line' to national, and we know that Mark's passion for private market solutions and transparency will guide his success.
Employers are still trying to get up to speed with new COBRA rules, FSA rules, and other regulations which have been amended with the pandemic. If you missed the latest NAHU Compliance Webinar, NAHU members can access the recordings through NAHU. The state is also getting into the action. Governor Baker issued a mandate for employers to provide Emergency COVID-Related Sick Leave to their employees through September 29, 2021. To read more about this new sick leave benefit for Massachusetts workers, Attorney Rick Szczebak has written this compliance update for MassAHU.
Do you have a compliance question? There are a few ways you can get help through our association. First of all, you can view any of the archived compliance webinars on the NAHU web site. You don't need to sit through the entire recorded session if you want to simply scroll through the related PowerPoint presentation to find out more on the topic in question. Second, you can join any of the discussion groups in NAHU B2B, pose your question and hear from other members from around the country. If you have never been on B2B and don't know how to register for a discussion group, we can guide you through it. Third, you can write to NAHU staff for assistance by emailing your question to firstname.lastname@example.org. And last but not least, we do field questions from our members right here at MassAHU, so if you have a question (especially when it is state related and the NAHU resources aren't as familiar with MA laws), ask and we'll try to get you the information you need!
Member Appreciation Event this Fall!
One of the most difficult changes we experienced during the pandemic was the loss of face-to-face interaction and networking within our industry. We really missed seeing our fellow board members (although we continued to have frequent virtual board meetings throughout the year). We missed seeing our members and carrier partners at Benefest. We missed welcoming new members into the association. It even seemed like our email updates were going into a silent space at times. So we are REALLY looking forward to hosting a member appreciation event this fall, while we also work to secure a date for Benefest next spring. We hope that everyone is eager to meet up again and will join us for both events. Watch for more information and an invitation soon!
Are you Attending NAHU's National Convention?
With the uncertainty of being able to gather together this summer, our convention will be 100% virtual again this year. That presents an opportunity for brokers to attend a national event for only $99. Take a few moments to look at the speakers, professional development and national exhibitors/sponsors. You will see the value of attending, even if you have a client meeting and have to miss some of the live programming, because you can catch up on it later in the day/week. While there's still time, REGISTER TODAY