Vail Daily column: Health care and business panel is April 7 | VailDaily.com
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Vail Daily column: Health care and business panel is April 7

One of the true pleasures of my job is that I have the honor to talk to business owners, operators, managers and employees on a regular basis regarding any number of topics related to doing business in the mountain region of Colorado.

Business people tend to share similar thoughts on doing business in a rural resort region, and across diverse industries, I find many of the concerns are the same. Seasonality and cash flow present challenges to business planning. Operational challenges are caused by a lack of skilled workforce and labor. Employee turnover is higher than more metropolitan areas due in part to a lack of workforce housing. I hear about these issues enough to know they are common challenges for our business community.

Each is a significant obstacle to business success and none are unique to rural resort communities or rural communities in general. That said, health care and the impacts of the Affordable Care Act is the one issue more than any other that generally comes out at the start of any conversation with business leaders. Four years after President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, there is still uncertainty regarding its effects on businesses and business operators. Through my conversations throughout the community, it is evident that small business owners want to know and understand the health care requirements.

As summarized by the National Center for Policy Analysis, small businesses typically purchase group health coverage from insurers and have been facing cost-increasing regulations as they go through the annual ritual of renewing their coverage. During the next few years, as regulations and mandates are finally implemented, the ACA will effect how businesses operate — including hiring, employee compensation, growth and so forth.

Delta Dental recently conducted the first annual Colorado small business health benefits survey. This statewide survey of small business owners and employee benefits decision-makers in fall 2014 was undertaken to understand the impact of the Affordable Care Act on their businesses and employee benefits strategies.

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Key findings of the survey include:

• Half of Colorado businesses with 5 to 49 employees are considering new health plans; compared to 21 percent with 50 to 100 employees

• Small businesses are feeling the impact of the Affordable Care Act (1 in 4 say ACA has impacted employee benefits “a great deal”)

• More change is expected (57 percent said they expect to see an even greater impact next year)

• Significant knowledge gaps exist (Only 41 percent feel knowledgeable about ACA and its impact on employee benefits)

• Despite the changes, small businesses say benefits are becoming more important in the future.

STRATEGIES FOR SUCCESS

The ACA is clearly an issue that impacts both our businesses and our employees. To help bridge the knowledge gap and help businesses gain valuable information and knowledge, Vail Valley Partnership invites small business owners, human resource managers, health insurance brokers, policy makers and representatives of the local health care industry to a panel discussion titled “Impact of the Affordable Care Act on Small Business in the Vail Valley” on April 7 from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Antlers at Vail.

State and local health leaders will convene with small business owners and benefits decision-makers to discuss the impact of the Affordable Care Act on small businesses in the Vail Valley and share strategies for success.

Speakers will share their insights followed by a moderated panel discussion and include: Kate Paul, president and CEO, Delta Dental of Colorado; Jandel Allen-Davis, vice president of government and external relations, Kaiser Permanente Colorado; Charlie Crevling, Vail Valley Medical Center, senior vice president of finance and chief financial officer; Jennifer Ludwig, Eagle County director of public health; and Ryan Sarni, Mountain States Employers Council staff attorney.

The panel will include introductory remarks by each speaker and an audience question-answer session to allow attendees to interact and ask questions specific to their business operations. There will also be a small open house/networking/expo session with educational booths for attendees to ask one-on-one questions of the panelists.

There is no charge to this event, and RSVPs are required. Lunch will be provided and priority seating will be available to Vail Valley Partnership members as space is limited. RSVP by today to Maren Cerimele at maren@visitvail valley.com or 970-477-4001. Learn more at vailvalley partnership.com.

Chris Romer is president and CEO of Vail Valley Partnership


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