Health Reform Bill In Mass. Reviewed

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One of the most comprehensive health insurance reform bills ever signed into law is not expected to have a dramatic effect on this state's credit unions.

The bill, which seeks to provide insurance to the approximately 550,000 Bay State residents who are uninsured, makes health insurance available for free to the poor, subsidizes health insurance for low-income workers, and seeks to make coverage costs more affordable for everyone else. The law requires every person in the state of Massachusetts to purchase health insurance by July 1, 2007, with financial penalties for those who don't purchase coverage.

Effecting credit unions most directly is a provision in the law that was vetoed by Gov. Milt Romney but that the legislature is expected to override. That part of the plan required employers that do not offer health insurance to pay a $295 fee per employee, and is meant to encourage more employers to offer insurance.

Rob Kimmet, a spokesperson for the Massachusetts league, told The Credit Union Journal that most of the state's credit unions are already offering health benefits to full-time employees.

He said that some of the smaller credit unions that are single-sponsor or SEG-based, he said, have been able to piggyback on the sponsor's health for their own employees. For those smaller CUs unable to do so, the league is watching the situation with the legislature, but for now has no firm plans in place, he said.

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