Ascension Health gives small business owners an ACA primer

June 15, 2012

Ascension Health, the nation's largest nonprofit health care provider, continues to spread the word that health reform benefits small business.

Through its "Health Care that Leaves No One Behind" initiative, Ascension Health is inviting small business owners on its community hospital boards and other community influencers to forums where they learn about the business-friendly provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. It's held 14 forums to date.

Each forum includes a primer on health care insurance for small businesses and the provisions in the ACA that help small businesses including state insurance exchanges, health insurance reform and the health coverage tax credit for which millions of small businesses are eligible. Ascension Health said it plans to continue to advocate for the ACA's small business provisions regardless of the outcome of the Supreme Court case challenging the law.

Ascension Health invites participants to share what they've learned at the forums with other small business owners; and it equips them with a tool kit including brochures, op-ed templates, speeches, PowerPoint presentations and other resources to help them communicate effectively about health reform and small businesses — and to be sure they are taking advantage of the opportunities it offers for their own businesses.

Following some of the forums, board members have made legislative visits in Washington, D.C., to express their support and/or concerns about health reform for small businesses.

The forums provide an opportunity for education, dialogue and advocacy, said Mary Ella Payne, Ascension Health's system vice president for legislative leadership. Ascension Health is planning several more forums for this summer and fall, and it is hoping others in the ministry may want to follow suit.

"With so much misinformation circulating about health reform, Catholic health care can play a major role in educating small business owners, consumers and others about how this law actually works," Payne said.

Ascension Health is based in St. Louis, but it does not operate any hospitals in the metropolitan area. Its spring forum in St. Louis brought together small business owners who heard from a panel of industry experts and small business owner Lew Prince, owner of the Vintage Vinyl record store in University City, Mo. Prince told the group he expects the state insurance exchanges created under the auspices of the ACA to be "hugely valuable" in that they will allow him to make apples-to-apples comparisons when he is assessing insurance plans for his employees. Prince said that through the ACA he got an $11,000 tax credit to offset $80,000 of the store's health care costs.

Payne said Ascension Health has been very pleased with the results of these events, "where our local and regional leaders can engage with health reform experts and one another about the Affordable Care Act and what it means for small businesses and health coverage in their communities."

Ascension Health officials said they are happy to share the resources and meeting templates with other Catholic-sponsored health systems.


Copyright © 2012 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States
For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3477.

Copyright © 2012 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States

For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3490.