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Posts from the ‘Labor Law Compliance’ Category

The Affordable Care Act isn’t a Benefits Change – It’s a Culture Change

acaToday’s guest post is courtesy of Sharlyn Lauby, better known as the HR Bartender.  You can learn more about how the ACA and how Kronos can help you comply with its employer provisions at Kronos.com

One of the hot topics at this year’s KronosWorks 2013 was the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Even with the delay in the company mandate, employers are taking this time to do extra research, specifically where it applies to implementation best practices.

The sessions I attended regarding the ACA were a reminder that, while strategy is important, execution is critical. Organizations are taking the implementation of ACA very seriously. The conversation was a thoughtful and lively exchange about how to implement this very complex law while maintaining the business operation and keeping employees satisfied with their jobs. Some of the key takeaways I learned during the ACA sessions include:

The Affordable Care Act requires a culture change. The ACA isn’t considered an HR issue. It’s a law. And organizations have to develop and implement a strategy that will be used on a daily basis. Organizations are viewing the decisions they make regarding the ACA as culture decisions (versus benefits decisions).

Every department needs to be involved in the strategy and implementation of ACA. This directly reflects the first point. Business professionals agree – you cannot manage the ACA after the fact. The professionals I spoke with talked about the many departments being touched by the ACA:

Senior leadership to set the strategy.

Human resources to ensure compliance and craft the policy.

Finance to manage resources and finances associated with the Act.

Operational managers to monitor schedules and manage daily activity.

Many organizations are having to revisit their staffing models. As a result, some employees will become full-time. Instead of trying to figure out ways to keep employees part-time, many organizations acknowledge that the ACA is making them ask the question “Should this be a full-time position?” In some cases the answer is yes.

Speaking of staffing models, another topic brought up was the notion of giving hours to the best workers. We all know how this works. There’s a last minute project to be completed. Often because both skill and speed are required, we ask the fastest, most qualified employee. But what if we can’t now because the extra hours will reclassify their status? Organizations are trying to figure out how this potentially impacts the talent they currently have and skills they might need if they have to develop a contingent workforce.

Employers are concerned about losing employees who don’t want to be full-time. We often make the assumption that everyone wants to be full-time and it’s simply not the case. Employers who have created part-time positions to accommodate employees are concerned that employees will leave because the positions aren’t as flexible as they used to be.

Full-time employees who currently have benefits are impacted as well. In the past, full-time employees who wanted to cut back a few hours were fine – it didn’t jeopardize their status and another part-time employee could pick up the hours without overtime. Now, full-time workers will need to maintain their full-time schedule because those hours being passed along to a part-time employee have greater implications than just payroll.

Everyone agreed the key to managing the ACA successfully will be effective management of workforce data, reports and analytics. Debbie Baum, HRIS director at the YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas shared their plan. “We’re not changing our full-time/part-time mix of employees because of the Affordable Care Act.  We’re not going to cut hours to avoid paying healthcare.  We are going to manage the scheduled hours staff were hired to work.” Unlike the YMCA, this level of data collection and review could be new and different for some organizations. It might take some getting used to.

The Affordable Care Act’s complexity mandates that organizations dedicate time getting their strategy right on the front end. Smart organizations are using this additional time wisely, to identify their focus as a result of the ACA. Troy Jackson, employment and performance manager at Firekeepers Casino Hotel in Battle Creek, Michigan said it best – “We want to be an employer of choice. Employees who work full-time hours will get full-time benefits. It’s the right thing to do.”

The Affordable Care Act is more than a new law about health care benefits. It’s a definition of corporate culture.

Related Posts:

Talking About The Affordable Care Act With Dr. Tim Porter-O’Grady

Engaging Health Reform

Part Time Workers Confused by the Affordable Care Act

Results of the Workforce Institute Affordable Care Act Worker Survey

 

Engaging Health Reform

patient gurneyToday’s guest blog post is courtesy of our board member, Tim Porter-O’Grady, DM, EdD, ScD, FAAN, FACCWS.  Tim brings a deep and informed perspective to the implications of the Affordable Care Act for workers, their employers and healthcare providers.  What’s your organization doing to get ready to comply with the Act?

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is well on its way into the fourth year of implementation. Looking past the strident political machinations, human resource leaders need to now deepen their understanding of its components and characteristics and what it actually does to improve the lives of workers and how it addresses long-standing health concerns of management. For the first time in the history of American healthcare, there is a drive to achieve real health value and ultimately to change the health status of the American population.

This focus on value economics now means that there must be increasing evidence of impact in health services.  The longstanding dependence on a tertiary care model where we wait until employees get sick and then undertake a flurry of activity to address the problem leads us to higher levels of cost and a lower capacity for a sustainable positive health outcome.  Our primary care foundations or infrastructure is not yet so well developed to a level that we can focus on preventing the conditions and circumstances that lead to our highest priced illnesses and conditions. One need only look at the overwhelming problems we are now confronting with the challenges and cost of treating an uncontrolled level of diabetes directly related to obesity and the high sugar, high fat diet in the U.S. The costs associated with treating diabetes and its co-morbidities over a lifetime far outstrip the costs associated with early addressing the practices and behaviors that lead to them.

The PPACA now emphasizes efforts that directly address health concerns and issues that can prevent the later onset of illnesses. Regular screening for high risk health issues can now be incorporated into health plans in a way that addresses both illness prevention and related costs. In addition, free preventive services are provided for potentially high risk, high cost services such as abdominal aortic aneurysm, alcohol misuse, blood pressure, cholesterol, colorectal, depression, type II diabetes, HIV screenings, diet counseling and immunizations (hepatitis, herpes, papilloma virus flu, measles, mumps, rubella, pneumonia, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, and varicella). In addition, free counseling is available regarding obesity, sexually-transmitted diseases, and tobacco use. Since many if not most employee related sick days are the result of these identified health problems, there is a potential for significant cost benefit for employers to assure their employees participate in these free preventive services.

Provider performance now emphasizes those activities which prevent accelerating utilization of high intensity health services and repeated admission to health services because earlier services were inadequate or ineffective. Recidivistic health care will simply not be supported or funded if it represents poor provider practices or ineffective standards of care. The PPACA now requires that providers “get it right” by assuring the application of evidence-based protocols and best practices for defined episodes of care. Besides accelerating the potential for quality care, the impact on the cost of that care of more effective provider practices will be significant.

Providers will now be incented not only by price but also by quality.  Competition between plans and providers now include measures of impact especially as it relates to comparable measures of quality of service.  Quality measures will now include clinical comparative effectiveness and user evaluation of service satisfaction. Imbedded in health reform is the intent that the system must ultimately produce a healthy population, not simply treat its ails and illnesses. In fact, the notion that admission to a hospital bed is evidence of the failure of the system to better address the health needs of the person plays out as a theme throughout the PPACA.  Beginning January 1st, 2015, physicians and other providers will begin to be paid for value not for volume. The question in this climate for the provider is not how much did I do for persons but rather did I make any difference for individuals in what together we chose to do in their best interests.  Those providers than can advance the quality of service and care at the same time as carefully managing its costs will be positioned to reap value-based rewards.

For employers and their health plans, the net aggregate value of this shift in design, delivery and outcome in the PPACA provides one of the strongest efforts to date to get at real issues of health-driven care and service. It is now time for employers who have a large stake in a healthy workforce to reinvigorate their own efforts to partner with their health plans in the pursuit of early engagement health services, primary care health interventions, and the pursuit of healthier life choices. The impact of such an effort will accrue to both healthy workers and a healthier bottom line.

 Related Posts:

 

 

 

Is the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013 Good for Workers or Not?

This week I spoke with my Workforce Institute colleagues Sue Meisinger and Andy Brantley about the Working Families Flexibility Act currently making its way through Congress.  If passed, this Act would enable private sector employers to offer comp time in lieu of overtime pay to their hourly workers.  This has been the case for public sector employees since 1985.

This change would represent a significant change to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for private sector employers and workers, and the bill has generated a lot of public debate about whether passage of this Act is good or bad for those workers.  Proponents believe this Act will provide workers with needed flexibility.  Detractors believe this is ultimately an anti-worker bill that will result in employers avoiding overtime pay that their workers are due.

Both Sue and Andy have given this legislation a fair amount of consideration in recent weeks. Andy testified before Congress in support of the bill, and Sue wrote about it in this week’s HRE online.   Both are skeptical it will ultimately become law. During our conversation, we discussed the following questions:

  • Does the Act give workers flexibility in trading overtime for comp time or does it further erode protections previously given to America’s workers by robbing them of overtime pay as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act?
  • Unions have come out against the bill – why?
  • Whether this bill passes or not, what are best practices employers can use to provide better flexibility to working families?

You can download and listen to a podcast of our conversation here:

Discussion with Andy Brantley and Sue Meisinger about the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013

If you’d like to learn more about the Act, you can find a collection of supporting documents here.

You may also want to check in on the objections cited by detractors in articles from the Huffington Post, the New York Times, and The Atlantic.

What do you think?  Take our poll and let us know.

Do you support the Working Families Flexibility Act?

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