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Wednesday, January 23 2013

MSN Money

The small-business backlash against Obamacare continues. A Wendy’s fast-food franchise in Nebraska is cutting the hours of non-management employees so its owners won't be required to pay health benefits.

The local franchise vice president in Omaha tells WOWT-TV the cuts are coming in several weeks’ time because he cannot afford to pay health insurance for all his employees.

Starting next year the U.S. Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, will require employers with 50 or more full-time employees to offer full-time workers "minimum essential" healthcare coverage. The Act defines a full-time employee as someone who works at least 30 hours a week.

As a result, about 100 Wendy’s workers in Omaha have been told their hours are being cut.

"It has a huge effect on me and pretty much everybody that I work with," T.J. Growbeck, who currently works 36 to 37 hours a week at the restaurant, told WOWT. "I'm hoping that I can get some sort of promotion because then I would get my hours, but everybody is shooting for that because of the hours being cut."

Wendy's spokesman Denny Lynch told the Huffington Post the decision was being made at the franchise level.

"Our franchisees are independent businesspeople, and they make the decisions regarding their restaurant teams," he said. "As small-business employers, our franchisees are facing rising food and operating costs and many new government regulations."

While Wendy’s says the hours-cutting action by its Omaha franchise is not "a company decision," several major restaurant chains have been very vocal in their criticism of Obamacare.

A case in point: Papa John's (PZZA -0.43%) CEO John Schnatter said the Affordable Care Act would cost his company up to $8 million a year, which would force him to increase product costs and cut workers’ hours.

Other restaurant franchises, meanwhile, are also looking at options ahead of Obamacare. John Rigos, owner of a Five Guys franchise in New York City, told CBS News the new regulations will affect hiring policies at his restaurants. 

"It'll probably have to reduce the staff to some degree," he said, "and again, focus on building [a] smaller stronger team rather than being as aggressive in opening up new stores and creating new jobs."

Rigos said while he "absolutely" supports Obamacare, he still finds it challenging.

"There's 25,000 restaurants within the New York City market we're competing against," he notes, "so it's not like we have surplus profits that we could just earmark a portion of them to go toward these types of initiatives."

Posted by: AT 04:16 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Wednesday, January 23 2013



Aetna Announces - A recent change regarding Aetna Advantage Plans for Individuals, Families and the Self-Employed (under age 65).


After carefully evaluating its individual market and rates, Aetna decided to discontinue its offer

of an initial 12-month rate guarantee.

This change applies to policies with a January 15, 2013 or later effective date, in all states where plans are sold.

Existing members who are currently in a rate guarantee period will not be affected. The rate guarantee language has been removed from all marketing materials including the state-specific booklets and rate sheets.

For more information on your existing plan or other plan options, please feel free to contact us for a free consultation and quote at: or 512-614-2333

Posted by: AT 03:38 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, January 17 2013

Legislative Update: HHS Releases Additional Guidance to States on Health Insurance Exchanges

On Jan. 3, 2013, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released additional guidance on the partnership model of a federally facilitated exchange, also known as the state partnership exchange.

In a state partnership exchange, the state has the opportunity to assume what are known as “plan management” functions, and/or certain “consumer assistance” functions. The guidance provides states with additional information as to roles and responsibilities they can, and HHS will, have in these state partnership exchanges.

States have until Feb. 15, 2013, to tell HHS whether they want to participate in state partnership exchange.

Generally, the guidance indicates that HHS plans to have states, in state partnership exchanges, take on significant roles in carrying out plan management and consumer assistance functions in order to prepare those states to eventually transition from a partnership model federally facilitated exchange to a state-based exchange.

However, the guidance also makes clear that even in a state partnership exchange, HHS will remain responsible for its overall operation and will provide oversight to the states to ensure they carry out their exchange-related roles and responsibilities. In a state partnership exchange, HHS will carry out all minimum exchange functions not performed by states, such as enrollment and establishment and maintenance of the exchange website and call center.

The state of Illinois has submitted its blueprint for a state partnership exchange and is awaiting HHS’ approval. On Jan. 3, 2013, HHS conditionally approved New Mexico’s blueprint for its state-based exchange. The Texas and Oklahoma governors have said they will not operate state-based exchanges or participate in a partnership exchange. If a state does not submit its application that is not a partnership model by the deadline, then HHS will establish a federally facilitated exchange in that state.

Posted by: AT 08:29 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
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