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Consultancies and Companies Say They're Ready for Health Care Reform

With tools such as webinars and training videos, companies say they've taken the time to put internal battle plans in place.

June 25, 2012

With the Supreme Court expected to rule on the 2010 health care reform bill this week, companies and consultancies at the 64th annual Society for Human Resource Management's annual conference in Atlanta say they're ready to answer any and all questions from clients related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

So much so that global insurer and benefits consultant London-based Willis Group Holdings has dubbed its internal initiative "The Battle Plan" to prepare its staff for the advent of health care reform. A midmarket consultant with 30,000 benefits clients, Willis has run an internal webinar for all employees working in benefits-related departments, said Frances Horn, chief operating officer of Willis' National Legal Research Group.

"Health care reform is the most far-reaching issue that we've dealt with in a long time," said Horn on Sunday at the Willis booth on the exhibit hall floor of the conference. "This has touched every client regardless of size or whether it's a private or government plan." The conference opened Sunday and runs through Wednesday.

With Willis a member of the Washington-based American Benefits Council, Horn says the company has been able to offer insight that other organizations may not have been able to access.

"We're keeping everyone informed with news releases and our monthly HR Focus newsletter," she said. "We've been really proactive about it. As a member of the American Benefits Council, we've gotten a lot of first-hand information as it comes off [Capitol] Hill."

Minneapolis-based Ceridian Corp. has an entire team devoted to benefits compliance that can field questions from fellow staff members, says Eric Schuster, director of product management.

"We don't have a choice but to assume the legislation will go into effect," Schuster said. "Our role is to help our clients meet the requirements of health care legislation."

Benefits management software firm Benefitfocus has put a large portion of its staff through a rigorous training session on health care reform, says James Kelly, vice president of employer sales for the Charleston, South Carolina-based company.

"It wasn't a fire drill for us," he said. "When [health care reform] started, we took 60 to 70 members of our staff and exposed them to the regulations."

The training was shot as a health care reform video that was made available publicly as a health care reform certification program, says Michelle Payne, vice president of marketing and communications.

"We launched it last year at SHRM," Payne said. "All of our employees took it. And we had great response from the public; about 20,000 took the course."

Rick Bell is Workforce Management's managing editor. Comment below or email editors@workforce.com.