CareerLink in Bloomsburg Expands Hours

Earlier this year the PA CareerLink of Columbia/Montour Counties relocated to 415 Central Road in Bloomsburg. With the move, the hours of the career resource center for jobseekers and UC recipients were reduced. Recently, some of those hours of access were restored. The CareerLink is open to the public Monday and Wednesday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Office staff are available daily from 8:30 to 4:30 to assist employers and the center is also available by appointment and for worker training programs.

Meeting the Health Care Needs of the Bloomsburg Community for Over a Century

Bloomsburg Hospital first opened its doors on September 11, 1905, answering a pressing need for health care in the Bloomsburg community. Dr. John W. Bruner, a Bloomsburg surgeon, was an early proponent of a hospital and sought the help of Joseph Ratti, the principal stockholder of the Bloomsburg Silk Mill. The hospital was originally located on the corner of Fifth and Spruce Streets until 1928 when a new hospital and nursing residence were built on the current site. Since then, the 72-bed facility has undergone three major renovations.

On July 1, 2012 Bloomsburg Hospital merged into Geisinger Health System, becoming Geisinger-Bloomsburg Hospital (G-BH). Since the merger, Geisinger has invested many resources in G-BH that include a major renovation of the Emergency Department; the addition of Geisinger Careworks, an urgent care walk-in clinic; implementation of EPIC, an electronic medical record; expansion of the hospitalist and midwifery programs; recruitment of specialty physicians; and investments in education and wellness initiatives for employees. In early 2014, neurology will join services already housed at G-BH including cardiology, orthopaedics, women’s services, psychiatry and general surgery. Geisinger has also invested in its nearly 400 employees at G-BH with enhanced educational opportunities and health and wellness benefits.

G-BH maintains its commitment in Bloomsburg, working with independent physicians, developing strong partnerships through a new community outreach program and continuing to foster relationships like those with Bloomsburg University and the United Way. The organization also strives to learn about the health challenges of community members and ways to develop programming to support them and give back through a Community Health Needs Assessment. And as part of their non-profit status, G-BH provided community benefit of more than $4.1 million in fiscal year 2012 alone.

Geisinger Bloomsburg is proud to be part of the Bloomsburg community and will continue to develop and enhance programs to provide our patients Geisinger care close to their homes.

Don’t Reduce Employee Hours Unnecessarily

The Affordable Care Act will likely continue to be a source of confusion and frustration for employers and individuals throughout implementation. While the employer penalties for the “pay or play” rules have been delayed until January 2015, many employers have already begun adjusting employee hours for the coming year to avoid the mandate. Make sure your business would fall within the large employer threshold before unnecessarily adjusting hours and impacting your employees.

The provision that employers must provide minimum levels of coverage to employees or pay a penalty only applies to those with 50 or more full-time equivalents. Employers that fall below the threshold are not required to provide health insurance. All employers are required to inform employees about the Health Insurance Marketplaces starting this fall.

The employee size calculator and other information and resources related to the Affordable Care Act are available on the Chamber’s website. Members with questions about Marketplaces or providing benefits to members can contact ChamberChoice at 1-800-377-3539.

Employers Must Provide Notice to Employees by October 1st

Beginning January 1, 2014, individuals and employees of small businesses will have access to insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) health insurance exchanges, which are also known as Health Insurance Marketplaces. Open enrollment under the Marketplaces will begin on October 1, 2013.  ACA requires all employers to provide all new hires and current employees with a written notice about ACA’s Marketplaces.

The Department of Labor (DOL) has prepared model Marketplace notices which are linked below to provide guidance for employers to use in satisfying the Exchange notice requirement.

Model Marketplace Notice for employers that offer a health plan.

Model Marketplace Notice for employers that do not offer a health plan

The DOL also set a compliance deadline for the Exchange notices. Employers must provide employees with a Marketplace notice by October 1, 2013.

More information on employer and individual mandates is available on the Health Care Reform Resources page.

Toomey Discusses Hindrances to Economic Growth

U.S. Senator Pat Toomey discussed a number of issues which he feels is hindering economic recovery in the United States at a Town Hall meeting held Monday in Danville. During the one-hour event held at the Pine Barn Inn, the Senator outlined his two main areas of concern, excessive government spending, and federal regulation that has “run amok”. Members of the Governmental Affairs Committee were among the approximately 40 people in attendance.

Toomey feels that the Federal government should not only abide by the spending caps previously passed, but work to decrease spending overall, as annual debt service currently exceeds economic output. A compounding frustration for the Senator is that discussions about tax code reform are met with suggestions of tax increases by leading Democrats in Washington. He feels that the President “pulled the rug out” from the possibility of business tax reductions with recent comments about offsetting revenue losses with other tax increases.

Increasing Federal regulations and mandates are a burden to business and hindering growth, according to Toomey. New banking regulations passed in 2010 following the financial crisis have resulted in financial institutions spending significantly more resources on compliance issues. EPA regulations are causing coal-fired power plants to be shuttered and ethanol policy is increasing the cost of fuel and corn-based products, with no environment benefits, he says. Toomey says that he plans to offer at least several amendments to the energy bill when it is taken up by the Senate in several weeks. While he would prefer to see full repeal of the measure, there does not appear to be sufficient support to do so.

The most pressing government mandate impacting businesses is the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare”. Senator Toomey pointed out that businesses are already cutting back on the number of employees by those close to the 50 FTE threshold, and hours of part-time employees are being limited to under 30 per week to avoid the requirement that health insurance be provided. The employer penalty for businesses with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees has been delayed until 2014, and Senator Toomey he would vote to block funding for further implementation of the Act. The Chamber has scheduled a seminar with our benefits partner, ChamberChoice, to help members understand upcoming requirements of the Affordable Care Act. The seminar will be held on September 10th at the Pine Barn Inn in Danville. Click here for more information and to register.

CCN News 8 in Danville covered the Town Hall meeting and has video on their website.  Members also have the opportunity to discuss these and other issues with Congressman Lou Barletta at a breakfast meeting next Friday, September 6th, at The Links at Hemlock Creek. Click here to register for that event.