Grandfathered Versus Grandmothered Health Plans

Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) “grandfathered plans” are group health plans (or health insurance coverage) that were in existence on March 23, 2010, and have not undergone certain prohibited design changes since then. Those prohibitions, in summary fashion, are: an elimination of benefits, an increase in percentage cost-sharing requirements, and an increase in a fixed amount cost-sharing requirement other than a co-payment (with some limitations) or a decrease in employer contributions by more than 5% of its established contribution on March 23, 2010.

Needless to say, not many grandfathered plans remain. In the Kaiser Health Organization 2016 Employer Benefit Survey it was noted that only 23 percent of employers nationally, maintain at least one grandfathered benefit option. Grandfathered plans are excused from some of the requirements under the ACA, such as coverage of preventive health services without any cost-sharing and the expanded appeals process and external review.

However, they still must comply with other provisions, including: (1) provide a uniform explanation of coverage, (2) report medical loss ratios and provide premium rebates if medical loss ratios are not met, (3)
prohibit lifetime and annual limits on essential health benefits, (4) extend dependent coverage to age 26, (5)
prohibit health plan rescissions, (6) prohibit waiting periods greater than 90 days, and (7) prohibit coverage
exclusions for pre-existing health conditions.

Employers of grandfathered plans have a notice requirement where the plan must provide, in any plan materials describing benefits for participants or beneficiaries, (a) a statement that the plan or coverage is believed to be a grandfathered plan, and (b) contact information for questions or complaints. Failure to provide this notice can result in loss of grandfather status. Another condition of retaining grandfather status
is that as long as the status is asserted documentation must be maintained to show that the coverage in effect
as of March 23, 2010 has not made any of the prohibited changes. This requirement reinforces the  importance of a plan sponsor having and keeping an updated plan document, which must be available for review upon request. Grandfathered status can be maintained indefinitely as long as no prohibited plan changes are made, however, once lost, it cannot be regained.

In contrast, the ACA did not make any particular allowances for individual and small group plans that became effective after March 23, 2010. It was expected that these plans would terminate at the end of 2013 and be replaced with ACA compliant coverage. However, due to multiple problems for small groups with ACA implementation, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued transitional relief that allowed states to permit non-grandfathered plans to renew their pre-ACA plans.

Therefore, a “grandmothered plan” (also referred to as a transitional health policy) is a non-grandfathered health plan that is subject to a HHS transition policy. This policy allows insurers to extend coverage which are free from certain ACA reforms, basically, they are non-compliant plans. The main insurance market reforms to which grandmothered plans are not required to comply are the premium rating rules, guaranteed
availability and renewability and the requirement to provide the ten Essential Health Benefits.

Originally issued in 2013, transition relief for grandmothered plans has been extended several times with the most recent extension permitting insurers that have continually renewed grandmothered plans since  January 1, 2014, to renew such coverage again for any policy year beginning on or before Oct. 1, 2018
(However, the insurance policies must not extend past Dec. 31, 2018). As a reminder whether a plan can
be grandmothered is governed by state insurance law, and not all states have adopted the transitional relief.
Additionally, an insurer that renews a grandmothered plan is required to provide an annual notice explaining
the right to retain existing coverage to affected individuals and small businesses.

Conclusion
If you have a grandfathered plan you can keep it indefinitely, as long as your plan does not make any of the certain prohibited plan design changes which causes the loss of grandfather status. Likewise, if you have a
grandmothered plan, you can keep it (at least in Pennsylvania) through Dec. 31, 2018. You should
continue to stay updated on the status of the ACA and how your grandfathered or grandmothered plan can be affected.

Atlantic Sunrise Breaks Ground

From Williams

Thanks to the tireless efforts of its supporters during the regulatory process, Williams is pleased to announce that on Sept. 15 the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a Notice to Proceed for Atlantic Sunrise mainline pipeline construction. Atlantic Sunrise is a nearly $3 billion investment that will boost Pennsylvania’s economy and expand access to abundant, affordable natural gas.

Williams has worked closely with permitting agencies, including FERC, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to minimize environmental and community impacts, including making modifications to more than half of the originally proposed pipeline route. Project developers have also partnered with environmental organizations to generate approximately $2.5 million for conservation projects located within the project area.

Atlantic Sunrise is estimated to support 8,000 jobs and inject a $1.6 billion economic impact in the project area during construction, including an estimated $85.5 million in Columbia County and surrounding areas.  Local businesses have the opportunity to directly benefit from this economic activity with the exciting, new WILLShop Local App, designed to connect our workforce with local businesses and services. Members can sign up for free to be listed on this app, which is designed to help workers from out of town find the services they need while in town working on the project.

After the approximately one-year construction phase, Atlantic Sunrise will provide enough natural gas to support the daily energy needs of seven million homes. To learn more, read this press release about the construction plans and timeline.

The Atlantic Sunrise outreach team and everyone at Williams thanks all of those that supported the project.

2017-18 Leadership Central Penn Class Begins With Quest to Build Strong Teams, Features Turtles and Lava

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did you know that turtles can swim in lava and have feelings?  The 2017-18 class of the Leadership Central Penn program learned that and much more on Wednesday, Sept. 20, when the group traveled to the Quest Team Building area at Bloomsburg University, where 20 strangers got closer than any could have imagined while solving problems and completing tasks. Leadership Central Penn is sponsored by Bloomsburg University, Kawneer, SEKISUI SPI and USG

This year’s class is comprised of 21 professionals from three nonprofits and 11 companies – including Chamber members PPL Electric Utilities, Geisinger, SEKISUI SPI, Service 1st Federal Credit Union, First Keystone Community Bank, Autoneum North America, Bloomsburg University, Kawneer, Girton Manufacturing and First Columbia Bank.

So how do you get such a dynamic group to learn names, professional and personal strengths, and weaknesses – all in a single day? You have the group work a ship in rough seas, flip a capsized life raft (actually a tarp) while all standing on it, race across a lava field (actually imaginary lava on a grass field) on the backs of turtles (actually small squares of plywood), build a house out of rope, and realize that personal space is definitely not part of team building. The group was separated into teams to use their individual skills collectively to solve a variety of problems such as these, each with its own complexities and requirements for an array of talents. Balance, strength, endurance, problem solving, listening, leading, and following was all needed through the day. At times, these were all needed simultaneously to ensure success on tasks.  By the end of the day, the group was hot and tired, but also smiling and grateful. 

During break, the group was challenged to a couple of riddles, and left at the end of the day wondering what a person who pushes their car into a hotel and says “I’m broke and out” could possibly mean. One thing everyone knew for sure was that they were in this program together, and better off because of it.

Individuals learned who in the group were doers, thinkers, influencers and relaters. They deduced what that means for success in professional endeavors and what each group’s strengths bring to organizational success. At the end of the day there were no losers, and everyone won the day. At the debrief, words like “team” and “family” were used by individuals to describe how they felt about these former strangers.

Here are some additional photos from the day via the Chamber’s Facebook page.

Member News – September 20, 2017

Member News

  • Students enrolled in a web design class in the mass communication program at Bloomsburg University are offering to provide website design services free of charge during the current fall semester to businesses in need of a website or a redesign of their current website. Students will arrange a meeting with clients during the week of Oct. 23 to discuss the project and will then complete the website in about five weeks. Last year, this class redesigned or designed from scratch websites for the Coalition for Social Equity, McBride Library, Ponduce Farms, Zarm Farm and Nannycakes. If interested in the services being provided by this class, please email Professor Dennis Frohlich or call him at 701-541-3608. Please contact him by Sept. 25 if you are interested.

 

  • The Montour County Historical Society will open its newly renovated Boyd House Museum this Sunday, Sept. 24, from 2-4 p.m. Two rooms – the Military Room and the Parlor – will be open for viewing. This event is open to the public and there is no cost to attend. The Boyd House Museum is located at 5 Bloom Rd. (Rt. 11), right next to the Montgomery House in downtown Danville. It was closed earlier this year for renovations. Both the Montgomery House and Boyd House Museums will be open on Sundays 2-4 p.m. throughout the month of October. 

 

  • After the devastation and widespread power outages that came about throughout Florida as a result of Hurricane Irma, numerous power and utility companies from across the country have sent personnel to help Florida’s utility companies restore electricity to their customers.

    A PPL crew helps restore power in Fort Myers, Fla. recently (photo from PPL Electric Utilities Facebook page)

    PPL Electric Utilities was one of those companies that sent personnel and equipment to assist in the recovery. One of the PPL crews sent the photo at right from Fort Myers, Fla. PPL is proud to be supporting one of the largest storm recovery efforts in U.S. History while also providing strong service to its customers in Pennsylvania.

     

  • Knoebels Amusement Resort is once again the recipient of some prestigious industry awards. Amusement Today recently announced the winners of its 2017 Golden Ticket Awards, which annually recognize the “best of the best” in the amusement industry and are calculated from an international poll. The results come from a survey that is sent to a database of experienced and well-traveled amusement park fans around the world asking the to rate the “bests” in 25 categories. The Grand Carousel again received the Golden Ticket for best carousel, a distinction it has received every year the award has been presented. The Phoenix also retained its ranking as the second-best wooden roller coaster in the world, missing first place by just 29 points. Knoebels also placed in several other categories, including: best food (#2), best Halloween event (#3), best dark ride (#3 – for the Haunted Mansion), best park (#4), friendliest park (#4), best indoor roller coaster (#4 – for the Black Diamond), and also had two additional rides ranked in the Top 50 wooden roller coasters (#35 and #44, respectively, for the Twister and Flying Turns). For more information on these awards, visit here.

 

  • SEKISUI SPI hosted its annual ECO Week Aug. 13-19, which is a dedicated initiative to be more environmentally conscious above and beyond the company’s and individuals’ day-to-day commitments.

    SEKISUI SPI associates participate in the company’s ECO week last month (photo from SEKISUI SPI LinkedIn page)

    With 100% participation of more than 350 associates, activities took place both in the Bloomsburg area and in the area surrounding SEKISUI SPI’s plant in Holland Mich. Activities included a clean up of Kocher Park in Bloomsburg and of Ottawa Beach in Michigan, Adopt-a-Highway, tree planting, electronic recycling, shorter showers, turning off lights and electronics and many other activities. 

 

  • Co., a social and professional networking group that is run by the United Way of Columbia and Montour County, will host a networking event on Thursday, Sept. 28 at Three Dogs Vino, located at 129 Hidlay Church Rd., Bloomsburg, from 5:30-7 p.m. Co. was founded to give area residents the opportunity to take advantage of all the great things this area has to offer. This group is for everyone, which means any age, ability, or area of residence. It holds multiple events each month. For more information about Co., including future events, visit its Facebook page

 

  • First Keystone Bank is lending a hand to support the relief efforts in Texas and Florida due to the recent hurricanes. It is holding collections for the Texas and Miami diaper banks through next Friday, Sept. 29. The goal is to fill a truck with baby items, and the bank will cover costs for the delivery of the items to Texas and Florida. They are currently in need of diapers of all sizes including adult diapers, as well as blankets, bottles, toys, wipes, pull-ups, books and any other baby items. Donations can be made at any one of First Keystone’s 18 branch locations.

 

  • The Bucknell Small Business Development Center will host a presentation from the Rural Business Innovation titled “Personal Credit Repair & Establishing Business Credit,” on Wednesday, Oct. 4, from 9-11 a.m. at the Bucknell SBDC in the DeWitt Bldg., 416 Market St., Lewisburg. This credit boot camp-type discussion will explore your personal credit, its effects on your business, establishing and keeping good business credit and what all these scores mean. The featured speaker will be John Yoder from the Hutchison Insurance Agency. Cost to attend is $10. Register for either event on the RBI website

 

  • State Rep. David Millard will host a Senior Caregiver Support Forum on Thursday, Oct. 5, beginning at 6 p.m. at the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation, 725 West Front St., Berwick. Intended for people that help care for aging loved ones, this forum will provide attendees with an opportunity to learn about important resources available to them. It will feature some brief informative sessions, along with a chance to get questions answered. Organizations scheduled to be on hand include the Columbia Montour Aging Office, Commonwealth Home Health and Hospice of Berwick, which is affiliated with Berwick Hospital Center, and an elder law attorney from the Law Office of Lutz & Petty. RSVP to Rep. Millard’s office at 570-759-8734 or on RepMillard.com

 

  • Geisinger Health will hold its inaugural Dream Big Hot Air Balloon Festival on Saturday, Oct. 7, from 7 a.m. – 5 p.m. at Spyglass Ridge Winery, 400 Plum Creek Rd., Sunbury. Proceeds from this event will benefit Geisinger’s Comprehensive Breast care Program. Activities include balloon rides (weather-permitting), live bands and food trucks, children’s activities and family fun, professional and amateur photo competitions, performances by local dance groups, a fresh food farmers market and family photo sessions in front of the balloons. Admission is free. For more information, read this flyer.Event organizers are also seeking donations of small items (approx. $10-20 in value) from area businesses and individuals for an auction. If interested in making a donation, please contact Linda Vaji at 570-214-2581 or email

 

  • PA CareerLink of Columbia/Montour Counties, along with the Innovative Manufacturers Center (IMC), will host a collaborative robot workshop on Monday, Oct. 30, from 9-11:30 a.m. at the Pine Barn Inn, Danville. There is no cost to attend and a light breakfast will be served. Around the world, thousands of robots work collaboratively alongside humans with no safety guards and no problems. Come and learn about universal robots, robot programming, end effector solutions, stands and protective covering, and participate in hands-on activities. Visit online to register or learn more about this event. 

 

  • Innotek Computer Consulting will host its annual Technology and Security Expo on Wednesday, Nov. 8 at Sand Springs Country Club, 10 Clubhouse Dr., Drums. This annual event, billed as “Northeast Pennsylvania’s biggest technology and security expo,” brings together IT managers, executives and business owners to discuss the impact of technology and security on business. There is no cost to attend. For more information or to register, visit the event page on Innotek’s website, or the Facebook event page.

 

  • Along with the Bloomsburg University Regional STEM Education Center, the Foundation of the Columbia Montour Chamber will co-sponsor the Future Careers Expo on Thursday, Nov. 9, from 6-8:30 p.m. at the Kehr Union Ballroom on the BU campus. The annual event allows attendees to explore career in science, technology, engineering and math and it open to all students in grades 7-12, as well as their parents. Participants can receive a BU application fee waiver just for attends, and there will also be door prizes for those that sign up. For more information and to register, visit here. For businesses that are interested in participating as vendors, please fill out this form and return it to the email address on the form by Oct. 20. For questions from businesses, please call the Chamber Foundation at 570-784-2522 or email

SEDA-COG Offers Limited-Time, Ultra-Low Interest Loans for Businesses

From SEDA-COG

For a limited time, a 2% fixed interest rate is being offered for Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority (PIDA) loans, which are offered through SEDA-COG.

Those interested should contact SEDA-COG (contact info is below) before Nov. 15, as applications need to be received by Dec. 31 to get this excellent rate locked in.

The PIDA board approved this interest rate incentive to encourage businesses to make investments and grow jobs in Pennsylvania. For more information about PIDA and eligibility, click here.

Then, starting on Jan. 1, 2018, interest rates will be set quarterly on Jan. 1, April 1, July 1, and Oct. 1 of each year using the current 10-year U.S. Treasury rate as an index benchmark, as follows:

  1. Real Estate Loans: The borrowers will have four options:a. For term loans with a regular amortization, a fixed interest rate for the full term of the loan, set at the 10-year U.S. Treasury rate, rounded to the closest quarter point, plus 100 basis points.

    b. For term loans with a regular amortization, a fixed interest rate for the first seven years of the loan term, set at the 10-year U.S. Treasury rate, rounded to the closest quarter point. After the initial seven-year period, the rate will automatically reset to the then-current 10-year U.S. Treasury rate, rounded to the closest quarter point. The reset rate is limited to a 200 basis point increase/decrease.

    c. For 10-year term loans with a 20-year amortization period, a fixed interest rate for the full term of the loan, set at the 10-year U.S. Treasury rate, rounded to the closest quarter point, plus 100 basis points.

    d. For 10-year term loans with a 20-year amortization period, a fixed interest rate for the first five years of the loan term, set at the 10-year U.S. Treasury rate, rounded to the closest quarter point. After the initial 5-year period, the rate will automatically reset to the then-current 10-year U.S. Treasury rate, rounded to the closest quarter point. The reset rate is limited to a 200 basis point increase/decrease.
     

  1. Equipment Loans: A fixed interest rate for the full term of the loan, set at the 10-year U.S. Treasury rate, rounded to the closest quarter point, plus 100 basis points.
  1. Working Capital and Account Receivable Lines of Credit: A fixed interest rate for the 12-month term of the credit line, set at the 10-year U.S. Treasury rate, rounded to the closest quarter point, plus 100 basis points.
  1. Pollution Prevention Assistance and Energy Efficiency Loans: A fixed interest rate of 2% for the full term of the loan. 

To take advantage of this ultra-low interest loan, contact SEDA-COG at 570-524-4491 or email one of its senior relationship managers directly!

John Reichard, Senior Relationship Manager II

Ray Haden, Senior Relationship Manager I

The Columbia Montour Chamber also offers its own ongoing low interest loan program, which allows qualified borrows to take out between $5-20K for no longer than five years.