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Small Businesses Look for Help on Health Care Coverage

first_imgSmall Businesses Look for Help on Health Care CoverageBURLINGTON, VT, June 16, 2008 – Most Vermont small businesses see it as their responsibility to provide health coverage to employees, but all are struggling with the rising cost, according to a survey report released today by AARP Vermont. AARP conducted an independent telephone survey of some 400 Vermont business owners with 50 or fewer employees. Clearly, the study exposes a group that is buried under the escalating costs of health care and being forced out of the market, while battling high energy costs and an economy in recession. The survey reveals a better understanding of what Vermont’s small business owners have been experiencing due to increasing health coverage costs, their opinions surrounding the issue and whether the Catamount Health Plan would appeal to them if made available.The findings showed that most small employers offer health coverage because they need it for themselves and because they feel a responsibility to do so, not for competitive or bottom-line reasons. Some 57% of respondents offer coverage, with larger employers more likely to provide the benefit, and nearly all say the premiums have risen over the past several years. In response, a significant number of businesses (48%) have changed to high-deductible plans which require employees to pay premiums and satisfy a hefty deductible before receiving any coverage. Other responses to rising costs include increasing employee contributions (27%), reducing benefits (26%) and even dropping plans altogether (16%). This pattern does not serve the interests of Vermont consumers and burdens the health care system itself. Nevertheless, it is likely to continue with more and more organizations reporting they will have to take similar actions in the next few years as premiums continue to rise.Catamount Health – the new, affordable, comprehensive insurance plan available to uninsured Vermonters – is currently not open to small businesses. If made available, affordably, to small businesses and the self-employed, the majority are likely to consider enrolling in the plan, according to the survey results. Of those not currently offering any health coverage benefit, fully 80% would consider enrolling in the plan if they could while 60% of those already offering insurance would look at switching to Catamount.AARP worked closely with lawmakers and others in pushing for the development and passage of the Catamount Health Plan. As the organization now works toward enrolling more uninsured Vermonters in the plan and improving plan provisions, it has become clear that smaller employers – the bulk of the business community – are a key in getting coverage to many residents with no coverage or costly high-deductible plans. Furthermore, hundreds of Vermont small business owners and sole proprietors are AARP members and are very concerned about the crisis in health care costs.”We ask our elected leaders in Montpelier to open the doors to affordable health insurance to small Vermont businesses – the backbone of our business community,” said Jim Leddy, AARP state president and one of the architects of the state sponsored plan. “The status quo is no longer acceptable. The only alternative for these businesses can not be to reduce, drop or not offer health insurance at all,” he said. “Quite simply, offering the Catamount Health Plan to small businesses, their employees and the self-employed is part of the solution to covering the uninsured and dealing with the rising cost of health care.”Leddy explained that AARP and the Vermont Campaign for Health Care Security are working to bring small businesses together to speak for themselves on the issue. It is expected that a proposal will go before the Legislature next session to approve a version of Catamount Health for small businesses. “We want to give voice to the thousands of small business owners struggling to take care of their employees. We hope these findings will help inform the debate in Montpelier,” said Leddy.AARP is part of a coalition representing the voice of Vermont small businesses and sole proprietors. It encourages those who want to help push for an expansion of Catamount to small businesses to contact Heather Riemer at the Vermont Campaign for Health Care Security at 1-802-343-1705.The survey interviews were conducted by Woelfel Research, Inc. in late March and early April of 2008 with a random sample of Vermont businesses as compiled by Dun & Bradstreet.AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization with 128,000 members in Vermont and 39 million members nationally. Through a wide array of special benefits, services, and information resources, we help our members make important choices, reach their goals and dreams, and make the most of life after 50. ###last_img read more

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IHOC : Orange looks to end slump by avoiding complacency

first_img Comments These are the dog days of February for Syracuse. And SU head coach Paul Flanagan does not particularly enjoy this time of year. Flanagan likes coaching in big games, under pressure.In one particular bout of tension, he recalls a weekend set in which his St. Lawrence team faced a win-or-go-home scenario on the road against Dartmouth. Heading into the first game, Flanagan’s Saints trailed the Big Green by one point in the conference standings.‘You’re playing a great team to win a league championship, and each night there’s 15,000, 16,000 people there,’ Flanagan said. ‘So we go in there and beat ‘em 3-2 Friday night. Huge game, big crowd, just a battle.’Flanagan’s Saints moved ahead by a point after the first contest. But St. Lawrence dropped the second game, also by a 3-2 margin, and was eliminated.‘I didn’t have to say anything,’ Flanagan said. ‘You talk about not having to motivate. It’s there, it’s right in front of you. You got the crowd, you got a league championship. We stood there and watched them award the league championship trophy, and it was awesome.’AdvertisementThis is placeholder textWhen Syracuse finishes up its final four games of the regular season over the next two weeks, it will not be playing in front of 1,500. It won’t be battling for a conference championship, and it probably won’t be dealing with much overt mental pressure. Following a sweep at the hands of top-seeded Mercyhurst this past weekend, SU’s second series loss to them this season, its biggest obstacle to this season’s finish will be complacency.For a team that has already faced five schools currently ranked in the Top 15, Syracuse has struggled to stay motivated against ones they expect to beat.‘It’s definitely easier to play really hard against a faster, hardworking team because you have to play up to that level,’ sophomore defender Jacquie Greco said. ‘We have the potential to play better, but it’s harder if they’re skating slower than you. I think we realize we need to win these next four games, or we won’t be in good shape.’Syracuse has won only three of its past 13 games, dating back to Dec. 10. Against Mercyhurst last weekend, SU was outscored 6-1 in the second and third periods.By fixing lethargy or complacency, Syracuse needs to rediscover its motivation against both the stronger and weaker teams on the schedule. SU plays Robert Morris, a team it sits above in the College Hockey America standings, this weekend.‘That’s where we have made our mistakes this season,’ SU forward Lisa Mullan said. ‘If we had played the way we do against better teams, we would crush them. Almost double digits. But it’s kind of frustrating to see that we do let up, and we do play down.’In Flanagan’s nine seasons at St. Lawrence, he qualified for the Frozen Four five times and won fewer than 20 games in a season only once. With a conference record of 5-4-1, SU sits comfortably ahead of fourth place Robert Morris at 2-8-3.As a result, there is not too much riding on this year’s playoff stretch. The Orange would need an epic collapse to avoid qualifying for the College Hockey America tournament.When reflecting on that late-season weekend in Dartmouth, Flanagan recalled his team’s drive for a strong finish. But creating that drive with this year’s Syracuse team is a different beast.‘And now for us, we almost have to be creative to keep them motivated,’ Flanagan said. ‘I have to read the room and try and push the right buttons. The appropriate buttons. You want to avoid going through the motions.’zoirvin@syr.edu Published on February 16, 2011 at 12:00 pmcenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

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