National, Local Experts Address Affordable Care Act

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Byline: Kim Mikus Daily Herald Business Ledger Editor

Patient-centered care, an increased emphasis on wellness and developing a reliable, lower-cost system are key factors in making the Affordable Care Act work for consumers and businesses, according to Mark A. Frey, president and CEO of .

"We have to develop a more reliable health care system," said Frey, who joined a panel of four national and local experts who explained key components of the implementation and impact of the Affordable Care Act at the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center.

Frey believes the country is heading in the right direction when it comes to health care. "I have to say the next four years will be a challenge. But for the first time in my career I have seen the changes put in place to revolutionize health care," he said.

About 200 business owners and leaders from suburban companies of all sizes attended the session sponsored by Alexian Brothers and the Daily Herald Media Group. Laurie Stone, founding president of the Schaumburg Business Association and a Harper College trustee, served as the moderator for the event titled "Affordable Care Act: The Road to 2014 and Beyond."

"The nation is divided on the Affordable Care Act. We need to educate people," said Mary Ella Payne, senior vice president of policy & system legislative leadership at . One of the biggest challenges is to get everyone into the health care system, she said, adding that nearly 48 million non-elderly Americans were uninsured in 2011.

Based in Washington, D.C., she finds that small businesses across the country are the segment that will be most greatly affected by the upcoming health care changes. Area businesses are struggling with an array of issues including how part-time and seasonal employees fit into the plan. Full-time employment is generically defined as an employee working 30 hours or more a week. Under the new laws, a small business is defined as a company with fewer than 50 employees. …