GV to host national health care speaker

Lizzy Balboa

Grand Valley State University’s Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy will host a national speaker June 25 to discuss the impact of the Affordable Care Act on philanthropies and community-based health care providers.

Dinah Dittman, a GVSU alumna and the national director of community engagement and philanthropy in community benefit at Kaiser Permanente, will address local community members at “Health Care Insurance Reform 101.”

“I hope to give insight regarding how the work that they support with their funding and volunteer time can help grantees and the people and communities they serve,” Dittman said. “(An) organized philanthropy will do well to consider the implications of health insurance reform on current program funding, as well as on efforts to discover emerging models of care and support for at-risk and traditionally marginalized communities to understand their options regarding health care access and quality, as the changes in the health insurance industry—as a result of the ACA—take full effect next year.”

Dittman is considered an expert in her field, as her organization provides health care to more than 9 million people across the country.

Robert Shalett from the Johnson Center said GVSU chose to host the event on the ACA because it’s a “hot topic” and will be in full force in January.

“That’s really why this is so important, because there’s changes going on,” Shalett said, adding that the speech is a neutral one void of criticism for either side of the controversy. “It’s not that Grand Valley or the Johnson Center is taking one side or other of the issue.”

Shalett added that the topic is an important one because it affects everyone at some level—including members of the GVSU community.

Dave Smith from GVSU’s Human Resources said the university has already implemented various elements of the ACA for its benefit eligible employees—about 2,400 faculty and staff members. “A lot of folks think the act is just coming into play for 2014, but we actually have been dealing with it since 2010,” Smith said, adding that GVSU consistently upgraded its plans to comply with federal rules.

One of the measures already effected is extension of dependent eligibility to age 26, which Smith said affects not only employees, but students, as well.

Students are now allowed to remain under their parents’ coverage longer, which ultimately cuts personal spending. “That was a huge expansion of coverage,” Smith said.

While students might financially benefit from the prolonged coverage, certain aspects of the ACA have called for increased expenses for GVSU.

“It’s increased our costs because we’ve expanded coverages and followed the new rules,” Smith said, noting a cost increase of 3 to 5 percent from 2010 to 2013. “That has had an impact on our costs for sure but I’m not saying that’s necessarily a bad thing… I think the act certainly has some very positive aspects of it and it will remain to be seen as things play out over the next couple years as to its overall effects.”

“Health Care Insurance Reform 101” will take place from 9 a.m. to noon at GVSU’s Bicycle Factory near the downtown campus.

There is no cost to attend, and those interested can continue to register until June 24 by contacting Sherry Collver at 616-331-7585 or [email protected].

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