What a month October has been! So many people have asked me why I am so interested/obsessed with the Affordable Care Act. Well, this law appeals to me on both a professional and personal level, and this law affects every one of us one way or another. Most of the law’s changes were meant to take effect on January 1st; however, the Employer Mandate was delayed a year, as were several other portions of the Individual Mandate. So, it appears that I will need to keep reviewing the regulations for another year in an effort to help my clients properly plan for a seemingly uncertain future. There are so many debates (both pro and con) surrounding this law and I don’t see an end to the discussion anytime soon.
I spent the last two weeks in September talking to clients and their employees while we presented the notices to everyone as regulated by the law. In an effort to avoid the headache and confusion of having to navigate the site on their own, I told clients that I would do the initial testing and setup on the site and would then follow-up to guide them through the process. We all know how that experience went. My last post took you through that little adventure. As my frustration grew, I decided to contact my Congressman, as I was tired of yelling at the television and not getting much of a response from it. I spoke with a kind Aide at the Congressman’s office and voiced my frustrations and offered to send him the screenshots and details outlining my experience. He listened, and after our conversation, I felt better for having done something, even though my husband DID make fun of me. A week later, my phone rang and I had an amazing conversation with a gentleman from the Congressman’s office in Washington. He didn’t fix my problem, but I hung up feeling like someone truly heard my clients and I. With that, I thought it was over- but I was so wrong.
Following that second conversation, there were a couple of email exchanges with the Congressman’s office, and I was contacted to schedule a conference call with Representative Peter Roskam. After pulling myself up off the floor, I began to prepare for my conversation with him. When the call finally took place, Representative Roskam took twenty-five minutes out of his day to listen to my experience on Healthcare.gov, about renewals I’ve seen and my thoughts on the overall law. He didn’t try to sway me or to spin anything- he simply listened.
A couple days later, I was contacted by Rep. Roskam’s office and asked if they could use my name as an example in the congressional hearings. What- were they serious?!? Of course they could use my name, but I didn’t think it would actually happen. On Tuesday, however, I sat at my desk watching Members of the House of Representatives question Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) administrator Marilyn Tavenner. When Congressman Roskam spoke of examples from his constituents, he mentioned Denise Benages of Lake in the Hills, and I was amazed. Later, I was contacted by the Northwest Herald and interviewed. Needless to say, it’s been a great week.
Someone asked recently what this means for my business and me. For my business, I hope it shows my clients that I am committed to learning all I can about the changes that will affect them and will keep them up to date on the latest HR-related information relevant to their business. For myself, I walk away from this month with a different feeling about my voice. For so long, I felt like no one was listening to what small business or individuals had to say, and I’m so grateful to have been proven wrong. In 200 years, my grandchildren will be able to pull Congressional records and know that I spoke up and someone listened. Hopefully they will know that they can too- and that it truly can make a difference.
Here is a video clip from the Congressional Hearing: