6 Tips for Small Employers Thinking about Workplace Wellness

When you think of wellness programs, what comes to mind? Some small employers might think that wellness initiatives are best suited for a large employer environment.  Still others might believe that workplace wellness programs are too expensive. Perhaps both small employers and their employees are concerned that such efforts could be overly personal, or even invasive.

So, what’s a small employer to do about workplace wellness?  Here are a few starter ideas:

  1. To the extent possible, use information which you know about your employees to tailor programs, rather than defaulting to off-the-shelf products.   Though it’s not universally true, small employers are often able to develop more personal relationships with—and therefore may know (or more easily learn)—about their individual employees than large employers.  Use this information to identify and/or create programs that are particularly relevant.
  2. Make it fun!  There has been a trend toward gamification of wellness activities over the past several years. Gamification aims to make activities reward-based, social, and encouraging. One example of a service using these techniques is Hubbub, which uses a web-based platform to help employees track exercise and healthy eating in a team-based atmosphere.
  3. Involve friends and family. Most health care happens at home—not in the doctor’s office, and probably not at work.  To truly impact individual employees’ wellness, behaviors which occur within an employee’s usual ecosystem (at home, in their neighborhood, within their family environment) must be a focus.  Making lasting, cost-saving change should logically involve the employee’s family and friends.  Some services, like Hubbub, offer opportunities to integrate employees’ social support systems at low/no cost.
  4. Re-think “pay-off”.  Behavior change (the basis of wellness programs) takes time.  Therefore, realizing a significant wellness ROI takes time.  With consistent commitment to wellness activities, the Altarum Institute estimates that, over time, medical costs fall by about $3.27 per person, and absenteeism costs drop by around $2.37.  Importantly, wellness initiatives improve employee morale as well as productivity. 
  5. Don’t be too quick to assume how to address a specific type of health issue.  Often, off-the-shelf products are designed for large work forces which might have a fair number of people who fall into their target audience.  Regardless of whether many others choose to opt out, those large employers are likely to be able to recruit an ample number of participants for, say, an after-work exercise program. The same might not be true for a business with 20 employees!  In fact, smaller employers might best improve employee health by looking to the work environment rather than employee behaviors.  According to Stanford organizational behavior professor Jeffrey Pfeffer, toxic work environments cause 125,000 employee deaths, and add $130 billion in excess health care costs, each year.  Assess whether your work environment is toxic.  If it is, work to change it.
  6. Understand how the ACA impacts wellness initiatives.  The ACA proposed rule regarding wellness includes several consumer protections, and increases the maximum allowable reward which employers can offer to employees for participating in certain wellness programs.  For example, employers can now offer rewards of up to 50% of the cost of health coverage for participation in programs designed to prevent or reduce tobacco use.  Read more about the details here

Interested in reading more about wellness programs at small businesses?  Here are a couple of additional articles:

From Employee Benefit News

From Marketwatch

Have questions?  Post them at www.mihealthanswers.com, or email them to advisor@mihealthanswers.com.

This post was contributed by Shannon Saksewski (Health Education Program Manager, Detroit Regional Chamber).  Shannon can be contacted at ssaksewski@detroitchamber.com.

PTI nurses receive NCQA certification

Troy, Mich. —Jan. 21, 2014— Practice Transformation Institute (PTI), providing the health care community with continuing medical education and customized learning programs that improve patient health outcomes and the individual care delivery experience, announces that Carla Irvin, RN, BSN, and Lisa Allen, RN, BSN, have successfully completed a study program and exam to become NCQA PCMH Certified Content Experts.

NCQA offers the most widely known Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) program in the country, the NCQA PCMH Recognition program. NCQA developed the PCMH Content Expert Certification (CEC) program in an effort to help physician practices and other interested parties identify experts with a demonstrated understanding of the NCQA PCMH Recognition program and to provide professionals with a way to validate their knowledge base.

“Certified NCQA Patient-Centered Medical Home Content Experts receive thorough training and demonstrate in-depth knowledge to assist organizations applying for NCQA PCMH Recognition,” said NCQA President Margaret E. O’Kane.

Attainment of the credential requires completion of two NCQA educational seminars and successful completion of a comprehensive exam developed and administered by NCQA; a commitment to continuous learning and recertification to maintain the credential is also required.

Allen and Irvin will continue to work with primary care physician practices seeking NCQA recognition and other respected designations as patient-centered medical homes, offering group classes, one-on-one practice coaching, and readiness evaluations through PTI.

About Practice Transformation Institute (PTI) Practice Transformation Institute is Michigan’s leading provider of CME and IACET accredited experiential learning programs for the Patient-Centered Medical Home and other primary care transformation initiatives. PTI was the first organization in the country to be recognized by URAC as a Certified Auditor for URAC’s PCMH program. Practice Transformation Institute is a founding partner of the Mackinac Learning Collaborative, a learning community linking Michigan physicians with their peers to rapidly test and implement meaningful, sustainable change within their physician practices. PTI also runs the Physician’s Training Center in Madison Heights. To learn more about Practice Transformation Institute, please visit www.transformcoach.org.

Health care training organization selected to develop learning collaborative for Michigan Primary Care Transformation Project (MiPCT)

Troy, Mich. —Jan. 20, 2014— Practice Transformation Institute (PTI), providing the health care community with continuing medical education and customized learning programs that improve patient health outcomes and the individual care delivery experience, has been awarded a contract from the Michigan Primary Care Transformation Project (MiPCT) to develop and implement a learning collaborative for its participants.

MiPCT is a three-year, state-wide multi-payer project aimed at improving health in Michigan, making care more affordable, and strengthening the patient-care team relationship. It is the largest Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) demonstration project in the nation. Approximately 400 primary care practices and 1,900 primary care physicians and mid-level providers affiliated with one of 35 Michigan physician/physician hospital organizations (POs/PHOs) are currently participating in MiPCT.

Learning collaboratives are learning and innovation communities that link a variety of organizations together to rapidly test and implement meaningful, sustainable change within a specific topic area. PTI developed and directed the Mackinac Learning Collaborative, southeast Michigan’s first PCMH collaborative, from 2009 to 2013. The Mackinac Learning Collaborative focused on transformation to a more patient-centric approach in small, primary care physician practices and included up to 16 southeast Michigan primary care and residency programs in each annual session. The majority of the participating practices ultimately obtained PCMH designation by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

In addition to advancing the PCMH model, the Mackinac Learning Collaborative targeted areas for improvement common to primary care practice patient populations, including obesity and behavioral health care and transitions of care from hospital to home.

The physician leader for the MIPCT Care Management Learning Collaborative is Kevin M. Taylor, M.D., M.S., FACP, a practicing internist in the Ann Arbor area and a leader in the patient centered medical home movement. Dr. Taylor was co-chair of the Mackinac Learning Collaborative and understands the potential for collaboratives to stimulate sustainable, positive changes at the primary care level.

“By establishing a MiPCT learning collaborative, Michigan is showing its leadership in engaging the primary care physician community and its practice teams in the PCMH movement and toward more effectively delivered patient centered care,” said Dr. Taylor.

The MIPCT Care Management Learning Collaborative in-person meetings will be held on three Saturdays: January 25, March 22, and May 17, and will be held at Blue Care Network, 20500 Civic Center Drive in Southfield. Registration is from 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. and the learning session is from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. In between meetings, participants will be engaged through webinars, phone sessions and open forums. The following metrics will be measured to gauge the outcomes of the MiPCT care management learning collaborative:

• 48 hour phone follow-up post inpatient or emergency department visit
• 96 hour in person office encounter after hospital discharge
• Discharge summary available at time of follow-up visit
• Medication reconciliation at post discharge appointment
• Percent of business days with a daily huddle
• Number of QI [define] meetings per month
• Average number of case reviews per month

To learn more about the MiPCT care management learning collaborative, contact Harmony Kinkle at hkinkle@transformcoach.org or 248.475.4736.

About Practice Transformation Institute (PTI)
Practice Transformation Institute is Michigan’s leading provider of CME and IACET accredited experiential learning programs for the Patient-Centered Medical Home and other primary care transformation initiatives. PTI was the first training organization in the country to be certified by URAC to audit primary care practices aiming for PCHCH designation. Practice Transformation Institute is a founding partner of the Mackinac Learning Collaborative, a learning community linking Michigan physicians with their peers to rapidly test and implement meaningful, sustainable change within their physician practices. PTI also runs the Physician’s Training Center in Madison Heights. To learn more about Practice Transformation Institute or the Mackinac Learning Collaborative, please visit www.transformcoach.org.

Health care training organization selected to develop learning collaborative for Michigan Primary Care Transformation Project (MiPCT)

Troy, Mich. —Jan. 20, 2014— Practice Transformation Institute (PTI), providing the health care community with continuing medical education and customized learning programs that improve patient health outcomes and the individual care delivery experience, has been awarded a contract from the Michigan Primary Care Transformation Project (MiPCT) to develop and implement a learning collaborative for its participants.

MiPCT is a three-year, state-wide multi-payer project aimed at improving health in Michigan, making care more affordable, and strengthening the patient-care team relationship. It is the largest Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) demonstration project in the nation. Approximately 400 primary care practices and 1,900 primary care physicians and mid-level providers affiliated with one of 35 Michigan physician/physician hospital organizations (POs/PHOs) are currently participating in MiPCT.

Learning collaboratives are learning and innovation communities that link a variety of organizations together to rapidly test and implement meaningful, sustainable change within a specific topic area. PTI developed and directed the Mackinac Learning Collaborative, southeast Michigan’s first PCMH collaborative, from 2009 to 2013. The Mackinac Learning Collaborative focused on transformation to a more patient-centric approach in small, primary care physician practices and included up to 16 southeast Michigan primary care and residency programs in each annual session. The majority of the participating practices ultimately obtained PCMH designation by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

In addition to advancing the PCMH model, the Mackinac Learning Collaborative targeted areas for improvement common to primary care practice patient populations, including obesity and behavioral health care and transitions of care from hospital to home.

The physician leader for the MIPCT Care Management Learning Collaborative is Kevin M. Taylor, M.D., M.S., FACP, a practicing internist in the Ann Arbor area and a leader in the patient centered medical home movement. Dr. Taylor was co-chair of the Mackinac Learning Collaborative and understands the potential for collaboratives to stimulate sustainable, positive changes at the primary care level.

“By establishing a MiPCT learning collaborative, Michigan is showing its leadership in engaging the primary care physician community and its practice teams in the PCMH movement and toward more effectively delivered patient centered care,” said Dr. Taylor.

The MIPCT Care Management Learning Collaborative in-person meetings will be held on three Saturdays: January 25, March 22, and May 17, and will be held at Blue Care Network, 20500 Civic Center Drive in Southfield. Registration is from 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. and the learning session is from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. In between meetings, participants will be engaged through webinars, phone sessions and open forums. The following metrics will be measured to gauge the outcomes of the MiPCT care management learning collaborative:

• 48 hour phone follow-up post inpatient or emergency department visit
• 96 hour in person office encounter after hospital discharge
• Discharge summary available at time of follow-up visit
• Medication reconciliation at post discharge appointment
• Percent of business days with a daily huddle
• Number of QI [define] meetings per month
• Average number of case reviews per month

To learn more about the MiPCT care management learning collaborative, contact Harmony Kinkle at hkinkle@transformcoach.org or 248.475.4736.

About Practice Transformation Institute (PTI)
Practice Transformation Institute is Michigan’s leading provider of CME and IACET accredited experiential learning programs for the Patient-Centered Medical Home and other primary care transformation initiatives. PTI was the first training organization in the country to be certified by URAC to audit primary care practices aiming for PCHCH designation. Practice Transformation Institute is a founding partner of the Mackinac Learning Collaborative, a learning community linking Michigan physicians with their peers to rapidly test and implement meaningful, sustainable change within their physician practices. PTI also runs the Physician’s Training Center in Madison Heights. To learn more about Practice Transformation Institute or the Mackinac Learning Collaborative, please visit www.transformcoach.org.

Health care community invited to Fourth Mackinac Learning Collaborative Outcomes Congress on Sept. 17

Event puts spotlight on integrating collaborative care teams in behavioral health and primary care following the patient-centered medical home model

Troy, Mich. —Aug. 29, 2013— Health care leaders are invited to attend the fourth annual Mackinac Learning Collaborative Outcomes Congress on Tuesday, Sept. 17 at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Detroit Branch. The event features transformation success stories from 12 primary care practices from Southeast Michigan who have attained or are transitioning to what is known as the patient centered medical home (PCMH) model. It is sponsored by Practice Transformation Institute (PTI), which provides the health care community with Continuing Medical Education and customized learning programs that improve patient health outcomes and the individual care delivery experience.

The Mackinac Learning Collaborative is focused on transformation to a more patient-centric approach in small, primary care physician practices and this year’s session focused on integrating behavioral health in the primary care practice setting for conditions such as depression, suicide risk and addiction. The Outcomes Congress will highlight how individual primary care practices implemented measurable process changes and then documented clinical outcome improvements as a result of their Mackinac Learning Collaborative participation. Participating practice teams are:

  •  Anchor Bay Clinic Family Medical Center, P.C.
  •  Country Creek Family Physicians
  •  Country Creek Pediatrics
  •  Michigan Healthcare Professionals P.C.
  •  Rosa Parks Geriatric Center of Excellence- DMC
  •  Hampton Medical Center
  •  Health Centers Detroit Foundation
  •  John R Medical Clinic
  •  Macomb Pediatric Associates
  •  Ronald Williamson, MD, P.C.
  •  Wayne State University Physician Group –Family Medicine Residency
  •  WSUPG-Internal Medicine

Mackinac Learning Collaborative IV was co-chaired by Kevin M. Taylor, M.D., M.S., FACP, a practicing internist in the Ann Arbor area and a leader in the patient centered medical home movement, and Lori Zeman, Ph.D., Director of Behavioral Health Integration at Rochester-based MedNetOne Health Solutions and an Assistant Professor in the Wayne State University School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences.

As implementation of health care reform enters the urgency stage, the Mackinac Learning Collaborative participants are establishing benchmarks for transformation at the primary care practice level.

“True health care reform cannot happen without the primary care physician community getting fully engaged in the process,” said Dr. Taylor, “Through the Mackinac Learning Collaborative, physicians and their practice teams are making transformative changes to the way primary care medicine, including behavior health, is delivered and are re-focusing efforts on patient-centric care.”

THE MACKINAC LEARNING COLLABORATIVE OUTCOMES CONGRESS
What: An up-close view of how 12 Southeast Michigan-based primary care medical practices, generally with one or two physician leaders and a staff less than ten, went through a series of process changes and enhanced behavior health services to improve whole person patient care; qualitative and quantitative outcomes data from the Collaborative will be shared

When: Tuesday, Sept. 17; registration and continental breakfast at 8:30am; program begins at 9:00 a.m. and runs through 3:30 p.m., including lunch

Who should attend: Members of the greater health care community; employers

Where: Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Detroit Branch; 1600 East Warren Avenue, Detroit Michigan

Cost: There is no cost to attend but registration is mandatory due to security requirements at the Federal Reserve. A picture ID is required upon arrival.

To register: Contact Laurel English at lenglish@transformcoach.org or call 248-475-4704 for more information.

About the Patient-Centered Medical Home
The ultimate goal of the Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) is to improve patient health through an efficient, patient-centered health care delivery system. At its core, PCMH is founded on the patient/physician relationship and seeks to transform the primary care physician’s office to ultimately renovate our health care system for better health outcomes, increased viability and long term cost effectiveness.

About Practice Transformation Institute (PTI)
Practice Transformation Institute is Michigan’s leading provider of CME and IACET accredited experiential learning programs for the Patient-Centered Medical Home and other primary care transformation initiatives. PTI was the first training organization in the country to be certified by URAC to audit primary care practices aiming for PCHCH designation. Practice Transformation Institute is a founding partner of the Mackinac Learning Collaborative, a learning community linking Michigan physicians with their peers to rapidly test and implement meaningful, sustainable change within their physician practices. PTI also runs the Physician’s Training Center in Madison Heights. To learn more about Practice Transformation Institute or the Mackinac Learning Collaborative, please visit www.transformcoach.org.

 

Plante Moran Launches Healthcare Reform Website Featuring Tools to Navigate New System

Southfield, Michigan, June 27, 2013 – Plante Moran, PLLC has launched a website to guide employers and healthcare providers through the intricacies of U.S. healthcare reform.

One of the largest certified public accounting and business consulting firms in the nation, Plante Moran has introduced an information-packed website that gives employers and healthcare providers access to webinars, videos and articles focused on the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or PPACA. The site, http://healthcarereform.plantemoran.com, also offers a downloadable “decision tree” that can help companies determine if they are considered a large employer who must comply with the regulations outlined in PPACA.

“Navigating the complexities of healthcare reform requires a tremendous amount of expertise,” said Ed Murphy, president of Plante Moran Group Benefit Advisors. “Our new website and the tools it offers can help employers analyze the options available to them and optimize decisions, from tax compliance to benefit plan design and pricing, and from reimbursement to capital planning strategy.

“Our hope is that the information on our new website is on point, easy to understand and will be a guide to assist in compliance with PPACA.”

The new website features

  •  A series of spring 2013 archived webinars, including employee benefits purchasing strategies and public/private exchanges. A new Plante Moran webinar series, including healthcare topics, will be launched in the fall.
  •  A free mobile app available for iPhone, iPad and Android devices containing everything available on the new website.
  •  Seven video vignettes that focus on various aspects of healthcare reform for employers, including an overview of the law and its history, public health exchanges and implementation and strategy
  •  A decision tree guide to help employers determine the applicability of the Shared Responsibility rules
  •  A 2013-14 Healthcare Outlook, along with other informative articles authored by Plante Moran accountants and advisers
  •  A “cost of care” benchmarking tool focused on seven key metrics that allows healthcare providers to see how they rank against their peers
  •  A hospital board member “best practices” checklist that provides new board members and healthcare executives with easy-to-digest documents focused on helping them achieve their organization’s mission

“As the research and implementation planning for healthcare reform continues, uncertainty about the appropriate steps can paralyze employers and providers into inaction,” Murphy said. “At Plante Moran, our goal is to provide the tools, understanding and the team needed to help organizations make the best decisions in a timely fashion.”

About Plante Moran, PLLCPlante 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. Plante Moran has been recognized by a number of organizations, including FORTUNE magazine, as one of the country’s best places to work. For more information, visit plantemoran.com.

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Plante Moran Spring 2013 webinar series to focus on critical business topics

Southfield, Mich. — March 18, 2013 – Plante Moran, the nation’s 11th largest public accounting and business advisory firm, has announced its spring webinar series with topics that focus on critical and timely business issues. There is no charge to participate in the webinars, which are approved for Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credit and are part of a continuing series of educational webinars launched by Plante Moran in 2009.

This spring’s topics cover a broad range of business and tax issues for organizations and executives, including:

  • Three webinars on critical decisions for businesses related to healthcare reform
  • Changes to the Fair Value Measurement standards caused by updates to ASU 2011-04
  • Utilizing business intelligence to gain a competitive edge
  • Disaster recovery planning: lessons learned from Hurricane Sandy
  • Top trends in state and local taxes in 2013 and beyond
  • Making the HR department a strategic partner in your company
  • Tax strategies for the high-income individual
  • A captive insurance company could offer tax savings

For a complete listing of the webinar schedules and registration and CPE information, please visit http://www.plantemoran.com/perspectives/webinars/Pages/home.aspx.

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. Plante Moran has been recognized by a number of organizations, including FORTUNE magazine, as one of the country’s best places to work. For more information, visit plantemoran.com.

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Wellness and Collaboration at Core of Plante Moran’s 2013 Healthcare Outlook

Southfield, Mich., Feb. 28, 2013 – Fundamental shifts in health care, above and beyond reforms included in the Affordable Care Act, will need to be re-examined in 2013 according to a new report from Plante Moran, one of the nation’s largest certified public accounting and business advisory firms.

In its latest healthcare industry outlook, Plante Moran identified five key dynamics that the entire healthcare value chain, specifically employers, patients, payors, suppliers and providers, must embrace in 2013 to stabilize and sustain the healthcare system in America.

“Although there is consensus that the current healthcare model is unsustainable, the commitment to drastic change is low. That itself has to change,” said Matt Weekley, national healthcare practice leader at Plante Moran. “Americans have to assume greater responsibility for their wellness and become better educated consumers of medical care. Similarly, the healthcare industry has to collaborate to reduce inefficiencies and defects.”

Plante Moran’s five-point formula includes:

• Wellness: With a greater emphasis on wellness and preventative medicine, more costly acute and post-acute services can be better avoided. This focus requires patients to make healthy choices and wellness part of their routine and will require healthcare systems and professions to invest in preventative health programs and personnel.

• Collaboration: The future of healthcare delivery lies in “patient-centered medical homes” that focus on treating the “whole person.” Bringing primary care physicians, behaviorists and social workers under “one roof” eliminates cost outliers and increases efficiencies. This transformation from an “event” centered healthcare system to a focus on healthy lifestyles requires coordination and collaboration among doctors, insurance companies and patients. The healthcare industry will also utilize technology, such as smart phone applications for EKGs, ultrasounds and telemonitoring of chronic conditions, to drive down costs.

• Pricing transparency: In 2012, approximately $2.7 trillion was spent on health care for 320 million people. That’s approximately 18 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product and is 50 percent more than most developed countries. The future requires patients to be active consumers; employers to move to high-deductible, defined insurance plans that provide greater flexibility and personalization; insurance companies to provide more retail-pricing models; and providers to bundle services.

• Success metrics: Success will not be measured by how many tests, admissions, surgeries or procedures are performed, but by how many people choose one medical service over the services of another. Payors, such as insurance companies, will be charged with keeping the total cost of delivering health care per capita at or below the rate of inflation. For patients, the success metric is very simple, “Am I leading a healthier lifestyle? Am I managing my own wellness plan?”

• Responsibility: Healthcare reform is leading back to an era of more individual responsibility, when insurance was considered to be for catastrophic coverage only and individuals picked up as much as 75 percent of healthcare expenses (compared with 25 percent today). Employers will be able to attract and recruit staff based on how much they subsidize defined insurance plans. Providers will have a greater focus on quality over quantity.

“Data has made it clear for a while that health care was on the frontier of disruption and in need of transformation. But when you listen to people at the grocery store or coffee shop talk about how to care for a loved one, the issues take on more urgency. Health care is a very personal issue for consumers, but it is also a very essential piece of a healthy, thriving economy. ” Weekley said. “Our nation, its businesses and its families, are looking to health care to bring back our competitive edge. To accomplish this goal, real cuts in the cost of care delivery will need to be re-engineered into the care process.”

The full report can be downloaded at www.plantemoran.com/perspectives/outlooks/Pages/2013-healthcare-industry-outlook.aspx.

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. Plante Moran has been recognized by a number of organizations, including FORTUNE magazine, as one of the country’s best places to work. For more information, visit plantemoran.com.

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Misclassifying Workers Now to Avoid Healthcare Reform Mandates in 2014 Can Backfire on Employers

Federal Government Soon to Reach Out Directly to Employees about Job Classification

Detroit, Mich. —January 29, 2013 —While the Affordable Healthcare Act doesn’t go into full effect until 2014, the employee count to determine which employers meet the 50 full-time employee threshold will be based on 2013 numbers. That has some employers scrambling now to find ways to stay below the 50 person mark, a number which actually includes employees working 30 or more hours per week. According to Patricia Nemeth of Detroit-based employment law firm Nemeth Burwell, P.C., it’s one thing to legitimately change employee hours, but another to misclassify workers from employees to independent contractors.

“The goal for employers to keep their staff count below 50 is to avoid being bound by healthcare reform mandates they consider prohibitively expensive, but the liability exposure for misclassifying workers is also significant,” said Nemeth.

Even prior to the passage of health reform, difficult economic conditions were the impetus for employers to use more independent contractors, consultants and contingent workers to meet tighter budget guidelines. As a result, the Department of Labor, the IRS and a number of state agencies have been questioning the classification of workers in every type of industry for the past several years – and levying fines and ordering back pay reinstatement for misclassified workers. Such financial penalties can cost a single employer hundreds of thousands of dollars.

With the addition of employee insurance mandates, employers may view health reform as one more reason to reclassify, and sometimes misclassify, employees as non-employees. At the same time, it’s another reason that federal and state agencies will continue scrutinizing employee classification – and now they are bringing in reinforcements.

“Government agencies are no longer going to rely solely on employer provided information. A new federal law is pending that directly asks employees to describe their job duties to ensure the daily tasks and responsibilities are being properly categorized under the exempt/non-exempt classifications defined by the Department of Labor (DOL). The DOL is also working to enforce Right to Know regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) that would require employers to explain each employee’s exempt/non-exempt or independent contractor classification. These efforts by the DOL are directly in line with the department’s five year plan to plan/prevent/protect employees from employer violations,” said Nemeth. “Additionally, agencies such as the EEOC and the IRS are working more closely with each other to address workplace issues in general.”

According to the IRS website, an employee is one who performs services where the employer controls what will be done and how it will be done. Conversely, an individual is an independent contractor if the payer has the right to control or direct only the result of the work and not what will be done and how it will be done. Nemeth says other indicators for employees and independent contractors are:

  • Independent contractors generally set their own hours and schedules, while employees follow employer schedules and work hours
  • Independent contractors follow their own methods and processes, rather than those of an employer
  • Independent contractors may and often do perform services for more than one company
  • Independent contractors generally use their own equipment and supplies
  • Employers who use a staffing agency or referral agency can also be liable as a joint of co-employer.

“There are no shortcuts to properly classify workers. It should be at the top of the 2013 to-do list for employers regardless of health reform or how close companies are to the 50 employee mark,” concluded Nemeth.

Learn more here about the definition of an independent contractor according to the IRS.
About Nemeth Burwell, P.C.: Nemeth Burwell 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.

MedNetOne Health Solutions Names New Director of Clinical Services

Rochester, Mich.—December 3, 2012– MedNetOne Health Solutions (MNOHS), a Rochester-based full service health solutions provider offering clinical, technology and programming support services to its 1,000 plus primary and specialty care private practice physicians and behavior health specialist members, announces that William Porter, RN, has been named Director of Clinical Services.

Mr. Porter joined MNOHS in 2012 as a Hybrid Care Manager, providing coordinated care, nursing services and administrative oversight to numerous member practices. In his new role, Mr. Porter will provide leadership and executive direction to 17 multidisciplinary care managers at 30 primary care practice sites in the MedNetOne Health Solutions network. He will work with physicians, behavioral health specialists, care managers and other health practice teams to deliver innovative care solutions that optimize patient outcomes, reduce service costs and increase patient and provider satisfaction.

According to MNOHS CEO Ewa Matuszewski, this position leverages Mr. Porter’s clinical and coordinated care expertise in the patient centered medical home (PCMH) team approach model and the transitions of care process.

“Changes resulting from the PCMH movement and health reform, including new reimbursement models and structural alignments, are coming at an unprecedented pace,” Matuszewski says. “Bill has the capacity to generate and apply new clinical, technology and programming support services to help our network members adapt to national healthcare reform as well as new programs offered through the State of Michigan,” she said. “Our organization looks forward to his continued efforts to promote whole person care.”

Immediately prior to joining MedNetOne Health Solutions, Mr. Porter was a site review consultant for Inovalon (formerly MedAssurant), a national healthcare data analytics solution provider. He also served as a patient care nurse and nurse technician at Providence Hospital and Medical Center. Prior to entering the nursing field, Mr. Porter was a skilled tradesperson in the auto industry. He is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps.

Mr. Porter graduated magna cum laude from Eastern Michigan University with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. He also holds associate degrees in nursing, liberal arts and general science from Henry Ford Community College. He is a member of the American Nurses Association, Michigan Nurses Association, National Transitions of Care Coalition and the American Academy of Professional Coders.
About MedNetOne Health Solutions:
MedNetOne Health Solutions (MNOHS), a leader in advancing the development and implementation of the Patient-Centered Medial Home (PCMH), is a healthcare management organization for primary and specialty care physicians and behavioral health specialists that provides administrative infrastructure and clinical support and programming to develop and sustain high performing, patient-centric practices while meeting government healthcare reform mandates. Learn more at http://www.mednetone.net.
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