BridgeSpan Capital and Crestmark Announce Joint Venture

(BLOOMFIELD HILLS, MICHIGAN, March 25, 2013) BridgeSpan Capital Partners and Crestmark are proud to announce the joint venture BridgeSpan Funding, formed specifically to provide short-term financing to investors in commercial real estate assets. Located in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, the newly formed company will be managed by a diverse and experienced investment team.

The team is led by Matt Roslin as Managing Director, previously with Flagstar Bank as Chief Legal Officer and Executive Vice President of Administration; and supported by an Investment Committee that includes Mark Hammond, Geoff Langdon, and Steve Faliski, each of whom is also a founding partner of Bloomfield Hills-based Alidade Capital. Prior to forming Alidade, Hammond was CEO and President of Flagstar Bank; Langdon has been active in real estate investment and development of office and retail properties with Midelem Companies; and Faliski was previously with Chemical Bank (which became JP Morgan Chase), working in credit, underwriting and transaction management.

“Accessing traditional bank financing in an expeditious manner remains a challenge for commercial real estate investors throughout Michigan and the rest of the country,” said Matt Roslin, BridgeSpan Managing Director. “We understand the time-sensitive nature of transactions in today’s market and the importance of having a reliable financing source. BridgeSpan will provide up to $5 million of financing to qualified investors with cash-flowing properties for up to a three year term. We believe there is great market demand for loans in this space and with Crestmark’s experience in financing and support, teaming with them on this venture was a no-brainer.”

“We are excited about this additional venue to help businesses in our marketplace,” said Mick Goik, Crestmark President. “The BridgeSpan team is comprised of highly qualified individuals, and we look forward to a long and beneficial relationship.”

About BridgeSpan Capital Partners and BridgeSpan Funding
BridgeSpan Capital Partners was established to capitalize on the opportunity to provide loans to purchasers and existing owners of commercial real estate assets that, for various reasons, cannot quickly and efficiently access traditional financing sources. BridgeSpan Funding is a joint venture between BridgeSpan Capital Partners and Crestmark that was created to serve that market by providing borrowers with financing to “bridge” their projects to traditional financing sources in a cost-effective manner.

About Crestmark
Crestmark is a nationally known and respected FDIC-insured bank that provides innovative financial solutions for small- to medium-sized businesses. Financing solutions include asset-based lending, accounts receivable financing, lines of credit, factoring, and equipment financing. Crestmark finances most business-to-business companies, and has extensive experience in helping many industries including transportation, manufacturing, staffing, government contractors, apparel and furniture manufacturing. Headquartered in Michigan, with offices in Florida, Louisiana, Tennessee, New York, Alabama, California, Illinois, Ohio, North Carolina, and Texas. www.crestmark.com

For more information, contact:
Matt Roslin
BridgeSpan Capital Partners
36400 Woodward Avenue, Suite 118
Bloomfield Hills, MI 48304
248.205.5575
roslin@bridgespancapital.com

# # #

Plante Moran Wins International Accounting Bulletin’s Employer of the Year Award for the Second Year in a Row

Southfield, Mich., March 21, 2013 – Plante Moran, one of the nation’s largest accounting and business advisory firms, was named Employer of the Year at the second International Accounting Bulletin Awards celebration, held March 14 in London. This is the second year in a row Plante Moran was recognized with this honor. International Accounting Bulletin is a leading authority on the global accounting industry and regularly analyzes firm performance and best practices. In two of the categories, competition was so stiff joint winners were announced.

Plante Moran Managing Partner Gordon Krater noted this international award is meaningful because Plante Moran was competing with firms from around the world.

“Realizing that our firm is being recognized globally as Employer of the Year is a significant honor for our partners and staff who are working hard to keep Plante Moran an employer of choice,” Krater said.

Plante Moran has 2,000 staff members in 21 offices throughout the Midwest and in China, Mexico and India.

About International Accounting Bulletin
International Accounting Bulletin is the only publication of its type focusing specifically on business issues affecting accounting firms, networks and associations. It is a trusted source for businesses operating in the accounting sector, providing a wide range of cross sector analysis, best practice case studies and senior-level interviews.

About Plante Moran
Plante Moran is among the nation’s largest certified public accounting and business advisory firms, providing clients with tax, audit, risk management, financial, technology, business consulting and wealth management services. Plante Moran has a staff of more than 2,000 professionals in 21 offices throughout Michigan, Ohio and Illinois, with international offices in Shanghai, China; Monterrey, Mexico; and Mumbai, India.

# # #

Detroit Attorney Testifies before EEOC in Washington, D.C. on Agency’s Quality Control Plan for Investigations and Conciliations

Detroit, Mich. —March 20, 2013— Attorney Linda Burwell, a founding partner of Detroit-based employment law firm Nemeth Burwell, P.C., testified before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in Washington, D.C. today as part of a round table public meeting to provide input on the agency’s Quality Control Plan (QCP) for investigations and conciliations. Nemeth Burwell was the only management side law firm in the nation invited to be among the roundtable participant groups, which included employer advocacy groups, associations and one plaintiff’s law firm.

The EEOC’s 2012-2016 Strategic Plan establishes a framework for achieving the EEOC’s mission to stop and remedy unlawful employment discrimination by focusing on strategic law enforcement, education and outreach and efficiently serving the public. The second performance measure of the plan requires the EEOC to approve a QCP, which is currently being developed and is intended to revise the criteria used to measure the quality of agency investigations and conciliations throughout the nation. Key points of Ms. Burwell’s EEOC testimony were:

  • The Quality Control Plan should concentrate its efforts on the intake process and assess the clarity of the charge
  • Vague and ambiguous charges that lack specific detail slow the process, result in unnecessary disputes and confuse the issues
  • The Quality Control Plan should develop indices that measure the overall pace of the investigations.
  • The EEOC must concentrate on improving its communication with employers

A nationally recognized speaker and author on employment law, discrimination prevention and risk management, Ms. Burwell often serves as the legal expert on panels involving employment laws and workplace trends. At Nemeth Burwell, she serves as a litigator, arbitrator and consultant, representing management in all aspects of labor and employment law and EEOC matters. Ms. Burwell’s areas of expertise include wrongful discharge, discrimination, non-competition, harassment, interference with contract, equal pay, retaliation, whistleblowers, wage and hours, unfair labor practices, breach of contract, libel and slander, and invasion of privacy. She also counsels management on collective bargaining agreements, pre-employment, discipline, and pre-termination and post-termination matters.

Ms. Burwell is a board member of the National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms (NAMWOLF) and an ABA Foundation Fellow. She holds a Juris Doctorate degree from Wayne State University School of Law and a Bachelor of Science degree from Michigan State University and is a member of the Michigan, Ohio, Federal, and the United States Supreme Court Bar. She has received numerous honors throughout her legal career and in 2010 was named one of Michigan’s 25 Leaders in the Law by the legal trade publication Michigan Lawyers Weekly.

A transcript of the hearings, including Ms. Burwell’s testimony, will be posted on the EEOC website.

About Nemeth Burwell, P.C: Nemeth Burwell (www.nemethburwell.com) specializes in employment litigation, traditional labor law and management consultation for private and public sector employers. It is the largest women-owned law firm in Michigan to exclusively represent management in the prevention, resolution and litigation of labor and employment disputes.
-end-

IPS Technology Services Refocuses its EHR Blog to Help Physicians’ Practices

TROY– March 20, 2013 –IPS Technology Services is planning to refocus its existing Healthcare IT blog to include implementation issues related to longitudinal healthcare.

Pradip Sengupta, President and CEO of IPS, started the blog a year ago to share his knowledge and experience in Healthcare IT implementation and its challenges. The current blog has topics that include tips on EHR implementation, meaningful use (MU), healthcare information security, critical success factors for EHR implementation and the true costs of HIT implementation. Going forward it will focus specifically on interoperability of Healthcare IT, Healthcare Information Exchange (HIE) and other current topics such as Healthcare Consumerism, Usability, Healthcare Information Network (HIN) and Business Intelligence as the Stage 2 Meaningful Use has been rolled out.

IPS Technology seeks to be a trusted technology advisor for physicians’ practices regarding all IT matters including EHR implementation. Its focus is on improving process efficiency and ROI for Technology dollars, selecting and implementing appropriate EHR tool and helping physicians get incentive dollars through the proof of Meaningful Use.

About IPS Technology Services

IPS Technology Services provides end-to-end IT services to the Small and Medium Businesses (SMB) marketplace. IPS develops custom applications using state of the art tools such as .Net, C#, VB, SaaS, SOA, Oracle, SQL Server, and/or by using third party software. IPS provides IT services in the following five areas:

1. IT Staffing (SharePoint, Oracle, Java, Dot Net, SQL Server, SAP, PM)
2. CIO Services and Technology Consulting
3. Web based and Mobile Application Development and Integration
4. Healthcare IT with EHR and Practice Management implementation
5. Engineering IT services
6. Website development and Digital Marketing

For more information on IPS Technology Services, please call 248-835-9895 or, click www.ipsts.com.

Chamber President and CEO Sandy Baruah on NBC’s Education Nation

NBC Education Nation kicked off its national tour in Detroit on March 22. Chamber CEO and President Sandy Baruah appeared on a panel called “Job One,” a conversation about Michigan’s workforce, the skills gap, and the future of our economy. Baurah joined Mary Barra, SVP for Global Product Development at GM; Tim Bryan, CEO of GalaxE Solutions; and James Jacobs, President of Macomb Community College, Moderator Chelsea Clinton lead the discussion on Michigan’s transition from a factory-based to a knowledge-based economy and the effects of this transition on workers, employers, and the competitiveness of the region.

This session touched on the relative roles of education institutions, employers, and the business community in preparing workers to compete in the new economy, and will explore innovative partnerships designed to align industry and education to close the skills gap. Immediately following the session, NBC News Chief Education Correspondent Rehema Ellis interviewed Governor Snyder about education in Michigan.

For additional video coverage, visit the Education Nation Detroit Summit website.

Sandy Baruah on NBC’s Education Nation from Detroit Regional Chamber on Vimeo.

WDIV EducationNation Overview from Detroit Regional Chamber on Vimeo.

Chamber endorses Medicaid expansion

By Karen Bouffard

From Detroitnews.com

March 21, 2013

The Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce has endorsed the Medicaid expansion proposed by Gov. Rick Snyder, despite opposition by many Republicans.

The chamber’s Executive Board voted to back the expansion Wednesday, the same day a House appropriations subcommittee advanced a community health budget bill that did not include the $1.3 billion in federal money to fully fund the program.

The Detroit Chamber’s endorsement is likely to sway some votes among GOP lawmakers because Republicans are generally aligned with business interests. “The Detroit Regional Chamber supports the Governor’s plan and thinks it will lead to lower costs for businesses and lead to savings to the state’s bottom line,” said Jim Martinez, director of communications.

Snyder is among more than a half dozen Republican governors who have come out in support of the expansion, which is a key component of the Affordable Care Act.

If approved by lawmakers, the income limit for Medicaid would be raised to 135 percent of the poverty line, adding about 450,000 more people to Michigan Medicaid rolls.

Chamber event spotlights health care reform, insurance exchange, Medicaid expansion

By Jay Greene

From Crain’s Detroit Business

March 21, 2013

Chris Priest, project manager of MIHealth Marketplace, Michigan’s health insurance exchange, made a strong case today for the state Legislature to approve separate bills that would authorize spending of $31 million in federal grant money to help build the exchange and to expand Medicaid to more than 500,000 uninsured residents.

At a Detroit Regional Chamber event this morning, Priest was on a panel that discussed the changing landscape of health care in Michigan. The panel also included Marianne Udow-Phillips, director of the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation in Ann Arbor, and Elaine Coffman, a principal at Troy-based McGraw Wentworth.

Despite Gov. Rick Snyder making a personal plea for the exchange and the majority of the business community supporting it, the Senate adjourned early this afternoon without addressing the exchange. The House had already approved House Bill 4111 that authorized funding for the exchange.

Priest said that without legislative action, Michigan will miss a key deadline this month giving it some local control over the exchange, which is one of several key components of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

“We are now seven months away from open enrollment (Oct. 1) on the exchange,” said Priest, a health care reform expert whose office is in the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

“How we execute it is very important,” he said. “We need the resources to show the federal government” we can take on some of the responsibilities, which could have included health plan regulatory oversight and hiring local people for consumer assistance.

A Snyder spokesman said failure of the Legislature to act will require the state to spend $8 million to link computer systems to the federally controlled exchange.

If Michigan had approved its own state-based exchange, Priest said the state could have decided to charge health insurers much less than the 3.5 percent premium surcharge to administer the change that the federal government will now charge.

“Colorado charges only 1.4 percent of premium. We could have made it less expensive” under a state-based insurance exchange, Priest said.

In addition, a state insurance exchange could have limited the types of plans offered on the exchange to only Michigan plans. A federal exchange is expected to offer several national plans on the exchange, which is expected to reduce the amount of enrollees in the Michigan health plans, lessen market share for each plan and make the entire venture more financially risky.

Coffman said she was on a provider planning group that issued recommendations for a state-based exchange during the Jennifer Granholm administration.

“No one wanted a federal exchange,” she said. “Politics aside, what is best for Michigan? It is unfortunate because plans and providers won’t have a say in it.”

While a state-based exchange appears dead this year, all three speakers said they are in favor of the state expanding Medicaid to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, which would cover a family of four with annual incomes up to $31,809.

“Medicaid expansion is good for consumers, good for the state budget and from the business perspective it keeps their costs lower,” Priest said.

Udow-Phillips said businesses could benefit immensely because some lower-income workers would be covered by Medicaid, alleviating health insurance funding costs for companies.

Moreover, the 90 percent of people in Michigan with health insurance would benefit by efforts to reduce the state’s 1.1 million uninsured. This is because the uninsured’s health costs are shifted by providers and insurers to businesses and those insured in the form of higher premiums.

“Expanding Medicaid saves employers money and it is good for providers,” said Udow-Phillips, whose research center found the state and businesses would save nearly $1 billion over the next 10 years by expanding Medicaid.

However, like the health insurance exchange, the state Legislature must approve Medicaid expansion through the state budgetary process, an accomplishment most experts now feel is unlikely because of Republican opposition and the defeat of the state exchange.

“It is not a done deal in Lansing,” said Udow-Phillips, adding: “Lansing needs to hear business voices” in favor of Medicaid expansion.

Leaders aim to turn southeast Michigan into ‘health care destination’

By Karen Bouffard

From DetroitNews.com

March 21, 2013

Falak Khattak’s face revealed she was weary from pain and 24 hours of travel as she was prepped for surgery at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak Wednesday, but her eyes were hopeful.

The Pakistani mother of six had flown 7,000 miles from her  home in Islamabad to start treatment with Dr. Kenneth Peters, chief of urology and director of Beaumont’s Women’s Urology Center.

Khattak suffers from severe pelvic pain and has to urinate at least 26 times a day. She’s among thousands who travel to southeastern Michigan annually for cutting edge therapies, new surgical techniques and clinical trials.

It’s a growing trend that area leaders, including Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson and Wayne County Executive Bob Ficano, think has potential to spur economic growth in the region.

Making southeastern Michigan a “health care destination” will be a focus of Patterson’s keynote address today at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s 2013 Health Care Leaders Forum in Detroit.

“I’ve been harping on the opportunity for establishing southeast Michigan as a (medical) destination since my emerging sectors initiative kicked off in 2004,” Patterson said this week. “At some point in time we’re going to have to join forces with Wayne and Washtenaw (counties) and pool our resources, to market southeast Michigan as a region for excellent (health care).”

Khattak, 57, sought treatment in Pakistan, India and the United Kingdom before reading about Peters and Beaumont’s Women’s Urology Center on the Internet.

“For what I have, he’s supposed to be the best,” Khattak said of Peters. “I’ve been in so much pain these past five or six years, I’m prepared to travel anywhere.”

She came to Beaumont with her husband and their twin 7-year-old sons, Sharez and Hamza.

“We’ve got to get her better now, ’cause she came all this way,” Peters said to his medical team as they wheeled Khattak into the operating room.

Peters performed diagnostic procedures, including cystoscopy, an endoscopy of the urinary bladder via the urethra. He discovered her bladder is riddled with ulcers, and administered “trigger point” injections of steroids and anesthetics to relieve muscle spasms.

“Today was to get an understanding of what is going on,” Peters said. “She’ll be in the center for four to six weeks.

“In the past year we’ve had patients from 17 states and five different countries, because nobody’s managing pelvic pain.”

Patterson launched Medical Mainstreet, an initiative to market Oakland County’s medical resources, in 2009. There are 4,300 health care and life sciences businesses in Oakland County, said Bill Mullan, the county’s communications director.

Ficano said he is taking Patterson’s lead in launching an initiative to encourage “medical tourism” in Wayne County and across the region, an idea he talked about in his State of the County address.

“What I’m hoping we can do is make it (the region) a destination that can compete with areas such as the Cleveland Clinic and the Mayo Clinic, and what we should be able to promote is our diversity,” Ficano said Wednesday.

“If you’re from the Middle East, culturally you should be more comfortable here than anywhere else in the United States.”

Patrick Anderson, principal and CEO of Anderson Economic Group, said he’s done three studies of health care-related resources in southeastern Michigan, and they are vast.

“Southeast Michigan is already a powerhouse in life sciences, medical devices, cutting edge therapies and pharmaceutical  innovations,” Anderson said.

“Where medical tourism comes in is those cutting edge therapies. It’s the ability to attract people who need treatments that are unusual and difficult to come by.”

Beaumont Health System’s President and CEO Gene Michalski said patients already come to the area for clinical trials and cutting edge therapies.

“We have some of the most effective, high-quality health care in the country,” he said.


‘Michigan State has always been in Detroit’

By Chris Solari

March 21, 2013

From LansingStateJournal.com

The ties that bind Michigan State’s basketball team to Detroit are long and deep.

Greg Kelser. Steve Smith. Shawn Respert. Kalin Lucas. Some of the Spartans’ best players have come from the Motor City.

“We feel like Detroit IS Michigan State and Michigan State IS Detroit,” junior guard Keith Appling said.

That feeling holds true outside the arena, too. MSU’s reach in metropolitan Detroit extends well beyond sports.

Detroit is home to the school’s largest alumni base, with about 100,000 Spartans who own businesses and serve in the workforce. And the university has made a concerted effort in recent years to establish more of a presence there — with its athletic teams and its academic programs.

MSU returns to its home away from home this weekend, opening NCAA tournament play today at The Palace of Auburn Hills. And Tom Izzo’s team once again will shine a national spotlight on the city and the school’s symbiotic relationship.

“I think they embody what I believe in — the blue-collar, hard-working, factory-type,” Izzo said this week. “I can’t think of a better place to have this at.”

About 25 percent of MSU alumni live in the southeast region of the state.

Ben Erulkar sees them all around him every day. And the Detroit Regional Chamber’s senior vice president for economic development knows exactly the impact they have.

“The first and most obvious way Michigan State benefits Detroit is through talent, pure and simple,” Harvard graduate Erulkar said. “Michigan State produces really smart people. Those folks stay in the region to make their lives and their careers, and that’s a tremendous benefit — probably the benefit we tend to overlook and take most for granted.”

Jena Baker-Calloway, director of the 3 1/2-year old MSU Detroit Center, said the university also benefits from having a metropolitan Detroit presence.

“It’s a two-way relationship, not a one-way relationship,” Baker-Calloway said. “There is expertise within the community that the university wants to make use of as well, along with what university brings there in various disciplines where we are top of the field in terms of thinking and research.”

Erulkar pointed to two cooperatives in particular: The university’s supply chain management school, which helps to guide the resurgent automotive industry, and its agricultural programs, particularly with the recent urban farming initiative to help reallocate land within the city. He added that MSU’s research and discoveries in those areas, as well as others, provide the type of innovation and entrepreneurship needed to re-energize Detroit’s economy.

“When we at the chamber go overseas and promote Michigan and southeast Michigan as an attractive place for talent to come to and for capital to invest in, Detroit is the brand name that people focus on,” Erulkar said. “There’s no question that the state as a whole, and MSU and the educational institutions, all benefit from that.”

‘Terrific experiences’

There is no MSU brand more recognized than its basketball team, and Izzo has made Detroit a major point of emphasis during his 18 years as head coach.

The Spartans have played 16 times in the metro area under Izzo. His record is 10-1 in Auburn Hills, including two NCAA tournament victories in 2000 en route to the national championship.

“We’ve had terrific experiences playing there,” MSU President Lou Anna Simon said Tuesday.

Izzo said the way the city embraced MSU in 2009 made its Final Four trip to Detroit “just a setting of all settings.” Open practice at Ford Field before the games drew more than 10,000 fans. More than 7,000 more jammed into Somerset Mall in Troy later for a pep rally.

“I thought that was pretty sweet with it being in the city,” said MSU senior center Derrick Nix, who that year was a senior and schoolmate of Appling at Detroit’s Pershing High. “It meant a lot to the city, and it meant a lot to the program.”

One example of the emphasis MSU has taken in the region is by opening its Detroit Center in October 2009. It’s a way for the university to introduce itself to future Spartans while helping to contribute in the rebuilding of a troubled city.

More visible now

“Michigan State has always been in Detroit,” Calloway-Baker said, “but not as visible.”

The office on Woodward Avenue adds a central location to the university’s presence in southeast Michigan — the College of Osteopathic Medicine has locations at Detroit Medical Center and Macomb University Center, and MSU Extension programs are available in the region.

The center contains the College of Music’s Community Music School, which offers music therapy as well as classes for inner-city children to help fill the void left by arts funding cuts to public schools. College of Education interns in area schools use the center as a home base, and it also houses offices for governmental affairs, university advancement and admissions.

Another major compoment of the Detroit Center is its abundant space. Staff has reached out to offer a place for neighborhood groups and civic organizations to meet.

“People see East Lansing sometimes as being kind of far away,” Calloway-Baker said. “It makes our faculty and the university as a whole more local.”

All tied to athletics

Bob Hornik says MSU’s success means a lot to the alumni — in terms of pride and finances. MSU’s Macomb Alumni Association president, who previously sat on the school’s national alumni board, has researched a number of Big Ten peers and said there is a direct correlation between athletic success and donations to his group and the university.

“How the alumni association goes is how the athletic programs go,” Hornik said. “Everything kind of ties to athletics.”

Hornik’s group collects money through fundraising events — such as the one it will hold March 27 in Warren with former Spartan basketball star and Pistons announcer Kelser. Those funds go to scholarships for MSU freshmen.

He said there has been an active push in the last half-decade to promote the school more as well, stretching beyond being just a social organization.

Steve Culp, who is in charge of the MSU Alumni of Metro Detroit, was a football manager in the 1990s. He now coaches football and track at Troy Athens High and teaches physical education at Brookfield Academy.

He said the Detroit Spartans — which encompasses alumni groups in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties — attend MSU sporting events together when they are held in town, as well as organize watch parties at local bars for games on TV. They also participate in a number of civic activities, such as next month’s tree planting in the city’s Parkland area.

“The thing you see the most and what stands out, obviously, is sports,” Culp said. “But also, it’s about getting involved in the community.”

Izzo said he’s been appreciative of the Spartan support around Detroit and thinks this weekend’s second- and third-round NCAA games — especially with rival Michigan also playing at The Palace — will provide an energized environment.

And, in turn, he envisions it as a much larger positive for a city that needs MSU’s help.

“Hopefully they’ll embrace it like I think they will,” Izzo said. “It’s another way to put our best foot forward as a city and hopefully keep building on what we’re trying to do down there — and that’s to get things straightened out the way they should be.”

Get Out Front

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan reform expert advises tackling the ACA now

By James Martinez

Page 48

As the vice president of the Office of National Health Reform for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Kirk Roy has a front-row seat as the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) continues to redefine the landscape of health care. As the reforms are being phased in, crucial information to businesses including costs are yet to be settled. The Detroiter interviewed Roy to discuss how small businesses should be preparing for October 1, when individuals and small businesses can purchase benefits through the new health care exchange.

Roy’s overwhelming message was: Visit your insurance advisor now and learn how your business will be impacted before it negatively impacts your bottom line or employees.

How will ACA affect small businesses and health benefits for their employees?

For small businesses (50 eligible employees) it will change the actual benefits they are required to offer and how the cost-sharing and other factors that make up a health plan are structured. It’s going to change the price of those benefits. There are going to be many new administrative and compliance processes. And then there is the question of ACA giving employers new options as to whether or not they should offer benefits and how they should be offered. Many small employers will have the opportunity to as if they should be doing something differently than offering employer-sponsored benefits.

What should small business owners know?

Know enough to know what questions you’re going to need to answer: 1) Do I know what I’m trying to do as a business? 2) Do I know where benefits fit in with what I need from my employees to make my business function? 3) Given those two things, do I know how many of my people are eligible for subsidies and what would that option means to them compared to what they are getting today? and 4) Are there any other requirements of me that would put me in the spot to pay a penalty?

Answer those questions now, but know that your final decisions will be based on the prices that are not yet set. Know that most people will see the normal fluctuation in their benefits renewal, but know that some will see more volatility as the exchanges are in place.

What is going to happen to health care benefit prices for employers?

It’s hard to give a definitive answer. There are a bunch of competing forces and it depends on the starting points for your business. There are taxes and fees associated with the ACA that are going to drive the price up. Also, the ACA will change what are allowable factors to set rates on businesses for the benefits they provide. The old system would take characteristics of certain businesses and set their rates differently based on a variety of factors. All of those things are going away. You had a situation where some small businesses were getting a surcharge under the old system. Those surcharges will go away and so their rates will go down.

Some businesses that received discounts will lose those, so those prices will go up. We as an industry won’t be able to give those answers until probably the third quarter once more information is available.

Why not wait until those prices are set?

It’s smart to get ahead of the changes, allowing you to be prepared as a business owner, and giving your employees a sense of comfort as to what’s to come.  Business owners should  answer those first couple of questions now to avoid last-minute decision making during what could be a chaotic and confusing time in the marketplace – businesses should make every effort to get as far ahead as possible. It’s a bit of a Catch-22 for small businesses. They don’t want to think about it, but if they engage now, we can’t give them all the answers (due to the impact of the regulations on prices being finalized). But they need to get started. They need to take it in bites.

What are you seeing from employers who might opt not to offer benefits?

We see some employers that look at the wage structure of their workforce, they are very paternalistic and have 10 employees and they are like family. However, in the system they see that their employees can actually get a better plan at a lower cost by getting a plan on the exchanges and getting the federal subsidy, rather than going through their employer. That is a very compelling case for a lot of employers. Their cost will be reduced, they don’t have to pay the penalty, if they are a small business and all or some of their employees can get covered (through the exchanges). It’s a bit risky for employers, because we don’t know yet how the exchanges will work – but everyone is talking about it.

What should employers be aware of with ACA and the impact on their taxes?

When it comes to taxes be aware of what taxes are in your prices. Be aware of tax credits if you are in that fairly small group of (businesses) that may be able to get some money for it. And if you make the decision to stop sponsoring employee benefits, be aware of the impact to your bottom line and the impact to your employees’ bottom line as far as tax impact.

If you’re considering other options, and you’re going to have folks go to exchanges, you need to think about “what is the bottom line impact to my business” and “what is the impact of that decision to my employees?.” “What is the net tax impact if you cut benefits to your employee but increase salary to compensate?”. That’s going to be a conversation that you’re not going to want to be surprised by when your employees come back and say: “Hey, what’s the deal?”

Business owners should  answer those first couple of questions now to avoid last-minute decision making during what could be a chaotic and confusing time in the marketplace — businesses should make every effort to get as far ahead as possible. It’s a bit of a Catch-22 for small businesses. They don’t want to think about it, but if they engage now, we can’t give them all the answers (due to the impact of the regulations on prices being finalized). But they need to get started. They need to take it in bites.

What are you seeing from employers who might opt not to offer benefits?

We see some employers that look at the wage structure of their workforce, they are very paternalistic and have 10 employees and they are like family. However, in the system they see that their employees can actually get a better plan at a lower cost by getting a plan on the exchanges and getting the federal subsidy, rather than going through their employer, which is a very compelling case for a lot of employers. Cost will be reduced, they don’t have to pay the penalty, and given the size of their  business, all or some of their employees may be able to get better coverage through the exchange. It’s a bit risky for employers, because we don’t know yet how the exchanges will work — but this is a popular and continuing point of discussion.

What should employers be aware of with ACA and the impact on their taxes?

When it comes to taxes, be aware of what taxes are in your current prices. Be aware of tax credits if you are in the fairly small group of [businesses] eligible for funding. And if you make the decision to stop sponsoring employee benefits, be aware of the tax impact to both your business and employees’ bottom line.

If you’re considering other options, and you’re going to have employees go to exchanges, you need to think the bottom line impact to the business and what is the impact of that decision to employees? What is the net tax impact if you cut benefits to your employee but increase salary to compensate? That’s going to be a conversation that you’re not going to want to be surprised by when your employees come back and say: “Hey, what’s the deal?”

James Martinez is director of communications for the Detroit Regional Chamber.