Health Care Update
I am writing from DFW while waiting for my connecting flight home from New Orleans. I am one of several conference leaders who attended the Quadrennial Benefits Conference 2012, (QBC) an event hosted by the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits.
At Annual Conference I shared that changes regarding our health care plan were certain, but the changes were largely dependent upon factors external to the church. Since Annual Conference the Supreme Court upheld almost all aspects of the Health Care Reform Act. The next major uncertainty to be resolved is the election, which is coming quickly.
Experts at the QBC shared that the prevailing thought in the health insurance community is that many important aspects of Health Care Reform will survive, no matter which political party prevails in the upcoming election. This is because:
- Certain provisions of the plan have already been enacted
- Some of the benefits have popular appeal
- Dismantling the law in its entirety would be expensive
- Once a law is enacted and in force, it is very difficult to repeal it.
Therefore, it makes sense for us to build our plans around the law which is currently in force, with various contingencies and options which would be available to us in the event of changes in the volatile political climate. We are actively studying the health care information as it becomes available. This Benefits Conference was a great forum to hear the thoughts of leaders from other conferences as they work through these same issues and opportunities. The IGRC attendees also had an opportunity for further discussions to clarify the facts as well as brainstorm about the potential implications of the coming changes.
My hope is that the Conference Board of Pensions will study the health care landscape and then bring a plan to the June 2013 Annual Conference for final approval.Based upon what I have learned I am optimistic that there are opportunities for change that the Conference will wholeheartedly support.
There will be winners and losers as the health care game changes nationally. Based upon what I have learned to date I am confident that the clergy, the conference, and local churches will be winners in this process. Our job as a Board is to develop a detailed plan and to communicate that plan clearly.
We live in an exciting time of change and your Board of Pensions is looking forward to working on your behalf to take advantage of the opportunities presented. We appreciate your confidence and prayers as we work through the complexities of change.
Dave Hood is a member of Champaign Faith UMC, Iroquois River District, and serves as chair of the IGRC Board of Pensions.