BY JON BELL
When it comes to state and federal health care reform, Eileen Brady is in deep.
As one of the nine members of the Oregon Health Policy Board, she’s been busy providing oversight to the state as it has set out to insure Oregon children and to make health care more affordable and accessible to everyone. And as co-owner of New Seasons Market, the Portland neighborhood grocery chain that has grown into a 10-store, roughly $250 million business, Brady has 1,700 employees — and 900 of their family members — to think about as new health care regulations fall into place.
“Will we actually be able to create an affordable delivery system and will costs actually come down? That has yet to be answered,” she says. “I have a vested interest in answering that question.”
Six months after Congress and President Obama made an official stab at health care reform with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, businesses are just beginning to glimpse the first provisions likely to impact their day-to-day operations. One example: as of mid-September, adult children up to age 26 were allowed to seek coverage through their parents’ health insurance plans, a move likely to boost costs for employers.
Other pieces of the legislation, such as health insurance exchanges, new tax credits for businesses and the requirement that all companies with more than 50 employees offer insurance, don’t take effect until 2014. Even so, businesses in Oregon are gearing up for the changes, some with excitement, others with trepidation, all with some amount of uncertainty. They’re also educating themselves, exploring their options, dealing with double-digit insurance increases — and trying to run their businesses.