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Health Insurance Too Expensive? Relief May Come Soon

If you own a business, you might remember when providing group health insurance for your employees did not mean sacrificing other benefits and retention tools. Many of the MBA’s members participated in the Association’s discounted health insurance plans. Unfortunately, the Affordable Care Act eliminated those discounts. However, that may all change as early as this year with the passing of Association Health Plan (AHP) legislation. An AHP allows businesses to aggregate together to purchase health insurance on the large group market. As you may know, employers with 50 employees or less are regulated to purchase health insurance on the rigid small group market and do not enjoy the negotiating benefits of those with more than 51 employees. The MBA’s most recent annual Government Affairs Survey determined that members’ top concern was the rising costs of health insurance. The survey goes on to conclude, if health insurance costs decreased, MBA members would invest the savings back into their company, give raises and hire more employees. An AHP spreads out risk and creates economies of scale increasing bargaining power to negotiate lower premiums. The Congressional Budget Office predicts these plans will reduce business’ premiums by 30 percent! So how can you get discounted rates? Our Government Affairs team has been working with lawmakers for over a year to make AHPs a reality and the future is promising. Currently, 30 states have created provisions to provide financial relief for small businesses through an AHP. That number is growing, and Pennsylvania could be next. Thanks to bipartisan legislation introduced by state Senator Michele Brooks, (R-50), and state Representative Valerie Gaydos, (R-44), AHPs could happen soon in Pennsylvania. STUDY EXAMINES ‘LIKEABILITY’ FACTOR FOR WOMEN AT WORK Worrying about what other people think at work is something women have to contend with far more than men, a new study suggests, according to a report in Science Alert. Economists at the University of Hamburg, Germany found that when people are placed in pairs, the contributions of both male and female workers depend on how they feel about their female partner. In all-male groups, being likeable was neither an asset nor a hurdle. In the study, male participants cooperated and coordinated to the same extent, regardless of their feelings toward one another. Only in mixed groups did they appear more sensitive to the perceptions of others. “As soon as one of them (or both) is a woman, however, the situation changes,” the study’s authors stated. “Then, likeability considerations become relevant, turning low likeability into a disruptive factor — in a sense an exogenous ‘hurdle’ — that impedes successful co-operation and reduces performance outcomes.”

STUDY FINDS WOMEN’S SHARE OF BOARD SEATS RISES, NOT TOP ROLES Women gained seats on U.S. corporate boards at a steady pace in recent years, but their share of top board leadership roles is still stuck at a low level, according to recent research published by Reuters. Among the largest 500 publicly traded U.S. companies by revenue, the share of female directors rose to 25.9 percent in 2019 from 18.9 percent in 2015, research firm Equilar found. However, women’s representation in board leadership positions barely changed over the period, edging up to 7.5 percent from 7.4 percent, as women’s share of combined CEOchair jobs declined. The leadership figure also included women who were non-executive board chairs and lead independent directors. “These stagnant numbers in board leadership positions suggest that women still face significant hurdles when attempting to climb the top rungs of the corporate ladder,” stated the study’s authors.

To get involved and learn more, contact the MBA’s Government Affairs team at 814/833-3200 or jfriend@mbausa.org and be sure to read May’s “On The Hill” article for an update.

Jezree Friend is the Manufacturer & Business Association’s senior government relations representative and is responsible for developing legislative priorities and strategies; encouraging membership grassroots activities; and lobbying on behalf of a pro-growth, pro-business agenda.

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