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SHRM says HR is focusing on short-term decision making when it comes to health care

Human resource professionals are addressing the short-term implications of health care reform as they learn more about the new law, a poll by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found. The SHRM poll “Organizations’ Response to Health Care Reform” shows that three-quarters or more of organizations are: (1)Working with a legal or benefits counsel to better understand the law’s implications; (2)Sending staff to classes–including seminars and webcasts –to learn details of the law and its impact; and (3)Partnering with current health benefits providers to design 2011 plans to include areas affected by the law.

More than 50 percent of poll respondents said their organizations are developing a cost analysis for their executives and analyzing the short-term financial impact of the law and the feasibility of offering health care. The larger the organization, the more likely it is taking these steps. “Although many organizations have been appropriately focused on the short-term implications of the law, attention should now be turning to more long-term strategies that consider both financial and human capital consequences,” said Mark Schmit, SHRM’s director of research.

About one-third of HR professionals say they are trying to maintain their organizations’ grandfathered status. Health care plans that were in existence on March 23, 2010–the day reform was signed into law–are “grandfathered” in or exempted from some requirements. Among respondents, 11 percent said their organizations have decided not to maintain their grandfathered status.

Health care reform focused new attention on preventive care and wellness. The SHRM poll, which surveyed 1,095 randomly selected HR managers and benefits professionals from organizations with 50 or more employees in July, asked whether organizations are planning to put wellness programs into place as a result of reform. Almost two-third (64 percent) of respondents said their organizations already implemented such programs, and 18 percent said they are planning to.

Source: Society for Human Resource Management; www.shrm.org.