LUMBERYARDS

Health care update from the NLBMDA

BY HBSDealer Staff

The National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association today released the following update on the status of health care legislation:

[On March 8], two committees in the House of Representatives, Energy & Commerce and Ways & Means, will hold markups to consider legislation that would make substantial changes to the nation's health care system. The American Health Care Act, released two days ago by House Republican Leadership, would replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) largely with a new system centered on tax credits to help people purchase health insurance.

 Congressional Republicans plan on using the budget reconciliation process to repeal and replace the ACA. This would allow the Senate to pass health care reform without giving Democrats an opportunity to filibuster. Under normal Senate procedure, 60 votes are needed to end debate, but under budget reconciliation only a simple majority is needed. However, for legislation to be considered as part of the budget reconciliation process, it cannot increase the deficit after its first 10 years in effect.

Initial reception to the House Republican health care proposal has been mixed. President Trump has given the American Health Care Act a strong vote of confidence, while members of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of conservative House Republicans, have expressed disappointment with the proposal. Senate Republicans are not making their opinions on the legislation well-known but are signaling that they might want to move more slowly on health care reform. House Republicans are moving forward with markup of the legislation despite the Congressional Budget Office's (CBO) announcement that it will not be releasing a cost estimate of the American Health Care Act until March 13.

NLBMDA has not taken a position on the legislation but does support provisions included in the American Health Care Act such as eliminating the cap on health flexible spending accounts (FSA) and permanent repeal of the health insurance tax on fully-insured health care plans.

Below is a summary of the changes proposed in the American Health Care Act. A section-by-section summary of the Ways & Means Committee section can be found here, and a section-by-section summary of the Energy & Commerce Committee section can be found here.

Repeals the Individual and Employer Mandates: Under current law, most individuals are required to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty. The American Health Care Act would replace this penalty with a "continuous care incentive" requiring anyone who goes without health coverage for 63 days or longer to pay a 30-percent late-enrollment surcharge on top of their premiums for the next year. In addition, current law requires businesses with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees to provide health insurance to at least 95 percent of their full-time employees and dependents up to age 26, or pay a fee. The American Health Care Act would eliminate this requirement.

Repeals FSA Contribution Limits: Under current law, a maximum of $2,600 can be contributed annually to a flexible spending account for qualified medical expenses. That amount is indexed annually for inflation.  The American Health Care Act would eliminate this limit.


Increases Limits for Health Savings Accounts (HSA): Under current law, an individual can put $3,400, and a family $6,750, into a tax-free HSA. The limits increase substantially under the American Health Care Act with a limit of $6,550 for individuals and $13,100 for families beginning in 2018.

Repeals the Health Insurance Tax (HIT) on Fully-Insured Health Care Plans: Under current law, the HIT is levied on all insurance companies that offer fully-insured plans. The tax is passed down in the form of higher premiums to small and medium-sized business that offer fully-insured plans, which unlike large companies, do not typically self-insure a health care plan. The tax is suspended for 2017 but is $14.3 billion in 2018.  The American Health Care Act would repeal the HIT.

Retains Popular ACA provisions: The American Health Care Act keeps parts of the Affordable Care Act that have proven popular, such as: 1) allowing children to stay on their parent's insurance policy until age 26; 2) requiring insurers to cover people with pre-existing conditions; and, 3) prohibiting insurers from setting annual or lifetime limits.

Makes Changes to Premium Subsidies: Under current law, middle-income Americans are eligible for tax credits on a sliding scale based on income to help offset the cost of premiums and deductibles. The American Health Care Act would change that by distributing tax credits by age rather than income. Tax credits will be available in full to individuals earning less than $75,000 and households earning less than $150,000, at which point they would begin to phase out.

Eliminates Unpopular ACA Taxes: The American Health Care Act would permanently repeal ACA taxes such as the "Cadillac Tax" of high-cost health plans, the medical device tax on the sale of certain medical devices, the over-the-counter medications, the surtax on Medicare Hospital Insurance, and the 3.8 percent tax on net investment income.

If you have questions regarding health care reform please contact Ben Gann, Vice President of Legislative and Political Affairs.

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Kodiak names director of HR

BY HBSDealer Staff

Jenny Vasquez has been named Director of Human Resources at Kodiak Building Partners.

The role is being created to better facilitate corporate-wide HR initiatives. She will report to the Chief Operating Officer and will support all 11 of Kodiak’s current businesses.

Jenny was most recently the human resources Manager at the Latin American Youth Center in Washington, DC. There she oversaw the restructuring of all human resource processes and advised both the executive team and the board of directors. Prior to her time at the Latin American Youth Center, she worked in Human Resources at T.W. Perry, a group of regional lumber yards, where she was involved in distribution and manufacturing operations, as well as the integration of several acquisitions.

“We are very excited to have Ms. Vasquez join our team here at Kodiak. She is a very talented and hardworking professional.” said Michael Cassidy, Kodiak COO, and former CEO of T.W. Perry. “Jenny will be responsible for supporting our talented human resource teams within their respective businesses. Her industry experience will be put to good use to further develop our high performing, locally driven culture of excellence across Kodiak Building Partners.”

Vasquez will relocate from the Washington, D.C. area to the Denver area in March.

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Doubling down at Ridgefield Supply

BY Ken Clark

The term “lumbermen” — and its built-in assumption of maleness in the LBM industry — has never really bothered Margaret Price, the owner of Ridgefield Supply in Connecticut.

“I’m more focused on making sales and growing my company than changing stereotypes or names,” Price said.

Still, she has taken big steps toward building a more inclusive environment at Ridgefield Supply, as a new 34,000-sq.-ft. retail store, showroom, education center and corporate office takes shape on the 4.5-acre site in Ridgefield. The dramatic physical change at Ridgefield Supply will mark a major upgrade in the company’s retail offering from its previous 4,000-sq.-ft. space. The showroom and headquarters are expected to open this spring. Already, the expansion has put a roof over the entire LBM inventory. 

These investments are designed to improve the business, but Price also wants to make the work environment safer and more comfortable for every employee. It’s common in the Northeast region especially, she said, for lumberyards to be a “little rough around the edges.”

“I’m trying to change the kind of work environment we have, and that’s very attractive to young people,” she said. For instance, women will have their own bathrooms in the new facility, and everyone will have access to a kitchenette.

In Price’s view, the male-dominated industry is generally accepting of women in the ranks, especially in sales, marketing and human resources roles. However, it’s been slower to accept women into the ranks of ownership or operations.

Her advice for women looking to successfully break into the business can easily cross over to men: “It’s a combination of having very thick skin and being very dedicated to the company you work for. And as I always like to say: There is no crying in lumber.”

She pointed to Rita Ferris, the head of the Northeastern Retail Lumber Association, as an influential role model for women in the business. Closer to home, Price said her father, Lou Price — the 1999 Connecticut Lumber Dealer of the Year — paved the way for her career in the business.

“My father was my rock,” she said. “He not only taught me the industry, and made me go get education within the industry. You always have to eat and breathe this stuff. You have to live it. You have to read the trade magazines and go online and do the research.”

As a woman in the business, she said she feels the pressure to double down on industry research.

“I have to know what I’m talking about when it comes to grading, species, millwork, insulation and the various types of glass used in windows and doors,” she said. “You have to know the product, and you have to know the manufacturers. And you also have to network with people.”

Another thing her father taught her was the art and science of networking. “The social aspect is a very important aspect of this industry,” she said. “Don’t be afraid to stay up late and have a beer with the guys. You can’t be afraid to go make friends. When you really and truly have the relationship, that’s a wonderful, wonderful thing.”

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