March 24, 2015

Washington, D.C. -- When pro dealers gather to talk about their business, it's usually not long before they talk about the challenges of healthcare costs and labor shortages.

February 6, 2014

Las Vegas -- Anticipating that many attendees at this week's International Builders' Show still had questions regarding the imminent changes to healthcare policy, the National Association of Home Builders offered three time slots for its ACA-related educational session.

December 12, 2013

The American Hardware Manufacturers Association (AHMA) surveyed members on two hot topic questions. 

As sales of existing-homes fell in October for the second consecutive month, the AHMA asked: “Is a strong housing market important to the success of your business?”

Ninety percent responded “Yes,” and 10% responded “No.”

December 9, 2013

Affordability problems for renters have skyrocketed over the past decade both in number and the share of renters facing them, according to a new report on rental housing from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies. The inability of so many to find housing they can afford dramatically impacts the health and well-being of U.S. renters, as lower-income households cut back on food, healthcare and savings, just to keep up.

November 8, 2013

In what was the first such increase since last May, national unemployment figures crept back up by a hair to 7.3% in October, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.

In terms of job gains, leisure and hospitality, retail, professional and technical services, manufacturing and healthcare experienced the most significant progress.

October 8, 2013

With the implementation of Obamacare mired in controversy, two of the nation’s largest retailers are backing an innovative Employers Centers of Excellence Network that will offer no-cost knee and hip-replacement surgeries at four highly regarded hospitals.

Walmart and Lowe’s issued a joint statement that they and other large employers had joined the Pacific Business Group on Health Negotiating Alliance (PBGH-NA) to launch the national Employer’s Centers of Excellence Network.

September 20, 2013

Home Depot will be shifting health coverage for roughly 20,000 part-time workers, who will qualify to seek plans on the new public marketplace exchanges under the Affordable Care Act, according to mutliple media reports.

The part-timers were previously covered under a limited liability medical plan that provided coverage of up to $20,000. Companies will be unable to offer these plans after Dec. 31. Enrollment for government-subsidized healthcare begins Oct. 1.

September 18, 2013

Workers will be confronting a changed benefit landscape in 2014. For one thing, all Americans will be required to have healthcare coverage or face a penalty. By Oct. 1, 2013, employees should have received a required notice about their options under federal- or state-run health care exchanges (marketplaces), notices that many will find more confusing than enlightening. Employers also may be making changes to rules that determine which employees are eligible for health coverage, perhaps excluding part-time workers who previously received coverage.

August 20, 2013

In the days after the Treasury Department’s announcement July 2, 2013, that it was delaying implementation of the employer mandate of the health care reform law for one year until January 2015, benefits attorneys were atwitter with theories about the reasons behind the delay.

For some, the stated reason for the change -- the need to simplify and prepare for new employer reporting requirements -- didn’t seem like the whole story.


August 8, 2013

The Oct. 1, 2013, deadline for employers to provide employees with written notice about new health care exchanges should trigger employers’ efforts to help their workers understand a wide range of pending health care changes, benefits experts say.

July 15, 2013

Employers are preparing for provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) that go into effect in 2014 -- and trying to assess the impact the changes will have on health plan enrollment and cost.

Findings from a survey of nearly 900 U.S. employers by consultancy Mercer, released in June 2013, highlight how employer thinking on reform has evolved over the three years since the PPACA was signed into law.


Higher costs expected

May 2, 2013

A survey of members of the American Hardware Manufacturers Association shows confusion over healthcare requirements.

April 12, 2013

The Health and Human Services Department proposes to delay a requirement that offers plan choices to small firms.

March 15, 2013

While employers have been focused on making sure that their healthcare plans meet the requirements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), new interim whistle-blower provisions under that law recently went into effect.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued an interim final rule and request for comments on Feb. 22, 2013, that establishes the procedures the agency will use to handle whistle-blowers’ retaliation complaints under the health care law.

February 13, 2013

"Employers -- under a variety of different laws -- can’t ask an employee’s doctor any questions that they can’t ask the employee,” said Robert Dustin, an employment and disability law attorney with Saul Ewing LLP in Washington, D.C.

February 6, 2013

As key provisions of healthcare reform under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) move closer to implementation, employers need to consider how they will respond.

January 16, 2013

Work clothes maker Dickies will expand its occupational wear division’s product offerings, as well as its geographical availability. 

December 21, 2012

The percentage of U.S. workers in private-sector self-insured health plans has been increasing. In 2011, 58.5% of workers with employer-provided health coverage were in self-insured plans, up from 40.9% in 1998, according to a November 2012 report by the not-for-profit Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI).

October 16, 2012

Two of the building industry’s largest manufacturers are collaborating on a new ceiling system designed for use in commercial applications. USG Corp. will offer its Logix Integrated Ceiling System with GE Lumination’s LED Linear Recessed Luminaires. The system is ideal for office, retail, healthcare and hospitality environments, the two companies said.

September 19, 2012

Satisfaction levels are rising among Americans enrolled in consumer-driven health plans (CDHPs), while they are declining among those in traditional health plans, according to a new report by the nonprofit Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI).

In particular, satisfaction rates for out-of-pocket costs appear to be trending downward among those with traditional coverage and upward for those with consumer-driven plans, according to the report.

September 10, 2012

In early August 2012, some U.S. employers with fully insured employee health benefit plans received a medical loss ratio (MLR) rebate. These rebates were mandated under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) whenever health insurers do not spend at least a certain percentage (generally, 80% to 85%) of the prior year’s health insurance premiums on healthcare services. The rebates received in August 2012 cover premiums collected for the 2011 plan year.

July 5, 2012

In its landmark decision issued on June 28, 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the health care reform law’s individual coverage mandate, rejected a provision intended to force states to expand Medicaid coverage, and left virtually all other parts of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) intact.

June 28, 2012

After the Supreme Court upheld the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the National Retail Federation (NRF) said it will redouble its efforts to repeal the healthcare law.

“We’re disappointed by today’s ruling,” said NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay in a statement. “The Court missed an opportunity to redress the many shortcomings of the law."

April 27, 2012

On the legality of healthcare reform

“Small businesses need healthcare reform to lower costs. If Obamacare is thrown out, something needs to replace it. Romney needs to address what he would replace it with.

“Responsible small businesses offer health care to their employees. The current system keeps increasing costs at double digits each year. That cannot last.” — Dick Wegner Portland, Ore.