Newton Kansan

Around 20 local business people attended a luncheon at the Meridian Center, Wednesday, to hear a presentation on a complex topic - the Affordable Care Act.

Aaron Wells, vice president of Willis of Greater Kansas, Inc. gave the presentation, which was sponsored by the Newton Chamber of Commerce and Newton Medical Center.

Wells talked about such things as IRS reporting deadlines, enrolling employees into healthcare coverage, fines for non-compliance and strategies for small businesses.

Pam Stevens, director of the Newton Chamber of Commerce, said, "I think the whole healthcare reform is complicated, but he brought it down to a level so we could understand. He doesn't go into so much depth that it overwhelms you."

The most "sobering" part of Wells's presentation, Stevens said, was the parts about businesses being fined for non-compliance.

"That worries me because I don't want that to affect my business people," she said. Not all business people are knowledgable of the rules and hefty fines "could be devastating to a company, small businesses especially."

Prior to introducing Wells, Steve Kelly, CEO of NMC, said since March 2010, there have been 42 changes to the ACA, more than 30 of them from the executive branch.

"I think that is indicative of how complicated and difficult this law is to implement," Kelly said later.

Newton Public Library Director Marianne Eichelberger also attended the presentation. She also said the the process is complicated, but said the library tries to be a resource for people to learn about the Affordable Care Act. She mentioned the navigators who volunteered in the library last year, helping guide people through the healthcare exchange.

"I appreciate the chamber and NMC offering the opportunity to learn more about what's next with the Affordable Care Act," she said.