Working to expand opportunities for small businesses is a key focus for GSA. Here in Region 5, GSA is working, in conjunction with other federal agencies, to provide critical information to help small businesses prepare for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requirements going into effect in 2014. It is important that we take part in this effort to educate small businesses, as they play a key role in helping GSA fulfill the needs of our customers and stakeholders.
We were invited to be part of the Department of Health and Human Services’ federal coordination working group for outreach on Health Insurance Marketplaces. This unique cross-government working group is focused on coordinating resources at the regional level to help both business owners and individuals understand the new health insurance options and the small business healthcare tax credit under ACA.
Our collaboration, especially with the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Region V office, has enabled us to share information with small businesses, technical assistance centers, and local governments about how the Affordable Care Act will impact the business sector. Since the group convened early this spring, we have reached out to many small businesses, and as we continue to work with our federal partners, we will report on our outreach efforts.
In the Great Lakes Region, we have been disseminating information through multiple outreach avenues, including virtual roundtables with Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs). PTACs are focused on assisting small businesses in successfully working with the federal government, and the meetings were designed to improve and increase engagement between GSA and PTACs. The region has hosted these roundtables in Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin, and shared information about the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) to help them prepare small businesses to comply with the ACA.
Under President Obama’s Affordable Health Care Act, for the first time, small businesses will have access to a new tool that lets them research and compare their health insurance options in one place – HealthCare.gov. The Great Lakes Region continues to strengthen relationships with small businesses and we’re finding more ways to engage with small businesses across the region on this issue. Also, GSA is committed to becoming a leader in expanding opportunities for small businesses. Small businesses should consider connecting with their local PTACs for additional assistance and training opportunities.