Following a summer-long layoff, the Southern Oklahoma Leaders Luncheon grew in popularity as seating was filled to capacity for the September event at the Ardmore Convention Center.
The featured speaker was Maria Robles Meyers, who discussed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Bryan Gonterman, president of AT&T Oklahoma presented the business highlight.
Gonterman discussed the addition of 4G LTE, the latest in wireless technology, to the Ardmore area. The addition, which will benefit both business and individual users, will offer benefits as technology drives progress forward. Gonterman said AT&T has recorded an increase of 30,000 percent in mobile data usage, which is expected to continue to rise as people continually use smartphones and other wireless devices. Among the benefits are face-to-face video calls, managing the home from a phone, real-time driving instructions, managing bank accounts and streaming television and movies.
Gonterman also discussed wireless home phone service and the future of wireless communication in cars and mobile wallets.
Meyers, a legal advisor for Health Law Advisors PLLC, updated those in attendance on Obamacare. While Meyers was able to outline many aspects of the plan, she also noted numerous times that there remains several items up in the air, as open enrollment in the plan is slated for Oct. 1
"It is the worst drafted law I have ever seen," Meyers said. She explained the law passed through the Senate and House without appearing in committee. Without the benefit of study, the first draft became law.
"It was not very well thought out," she said. "There are a lot of gaps that need to be filled."
She said it was not possible to put a finger on the rates, as the cost will not be disclosed until Oct. 1, but it is expected to be higher. Meyers gave employers an idea of the financial responsibilities they will incur, and highlighted the benefit changes, which include no pre-existing condition limitation and no cost pay for preventable services. Some of the issues include a lack of transparency, costs expected to rise and the estimated cost for Oklahoma is unknown.
Meyers said some of the ways companies cope with new guidelines is to pass costs down to the employees, no spousal coverage or reduce hours below 30 hours to eliminate taxes.
The next Southern Oklahoma Leaders Luncheon will be at noon Nov. 14 at the Southern Oklahoma Technology Center. The luncheon will feature a legislative update.