Pixel Tracker

Thursday, March 21 , 2019, 12:16 pm | A Few Clouds 56º


Health-Care Reforms at Heart of Goleta Economic Summit

Panelists also discuss jobless rates and efforts to generate more green jobs on the Central Coast

Goleta and Santa Barbara have some of the lowest unemployment rates in California, and efforts are being made to grow more green jobs while health-care officials continue to try to figure out how national reform laws will affect small businesses.

The Goleta Economic Summit on Friday drew about 125 business leaders to hear experts discuss state politics, how new jobs will be generated, and whether health-care reforms will be a disaster or a boon when they take full effect in 2014.

“It’s a disaster,” Michael Framberger, regional sales manager for Anthem Blue Cross, said of the health-care law passed earlier this year. “I don’t see it lowering costs for small businesses.”

Framberger was one of five summit panelists who acknowledged that effects of the reforms are largely unclear since the law won’t take hold for several years. He corrected panelist Chris McNamara, senior vice president of the nonprofit Sansum Clinic, who said part of the law that allows parents to keep adult children on their policies until age 26 went into effect Thursday. Framberger said parents can’t take advantage of that part of the law until next year when they reapply for health-care coverage.

The disagreement pointed to what several panelists said were vague and confusing aspects of the reforms, which no one has figured out yet.

McNamara and panelist Cynder Sinclair, head of the nonprofit Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics, said that while the reforms will cost taxpayers and patients more, the overall effect will be a healthier work force, fewer days lost on the job and greater productivity.

“It will mean higher premiums and taxes ... but for some small businesses, the tax credits will help,” said Ted Frech, a panelist and UCSB professor.

Panelist Steve Woodward, with Santa Barbara-based Riviera Insurance Services, said there will be some business disadvantages, but added, “for business professionals, it’s time to take off the blinders and ace the world.” He said he has had to “go back to school” to try to discern what the health-care reform really means for his small-business clients.

McNamara said that what further complicates the South Coast health-care situation is that many local general practice doctors are planning to retire in the next several years, and they will have few replacements since interns usually want to be specialists.

Sinclair and McNamara said their nonprofit clinics will be seeing many more patients because a growing number of South Coast workers can’t afford health insurance for themselves or their families.

“We’re seeing 400 new patients every month,” Sinclair said.

On the unemployment front, Goleta’s most recent figures show a 4.4 percent jobless rate, while Santa Barbara clocked in at 6.3 percent, said Josh Williams of BW Research Partnership Inc. who works for the Workforce Investment Board.

However, South Coast tourism officials indicated that Santa Barbara County’s leisure travel and hospitality sectors are making a positive turnaround and that the county’s agricultural industry has seen nearly 3,000 jobs gained since 2008.

“Construction and sustainable farming operations are two of the most active and promising sectors of the ‘green economy,’ too,” said Bill Buratto, president and CEO of the Ventura County Economic Development Association. Buratto is working with Williams on a study on how to create more green jobs on the Central Coast.

Buratto defined the green economy as activities or services that perform at least one of the following: generating or storing renewable energy; recycling existing materials; energy-efficient product manufacturing, distribution, construction, installation or maintenance; education, compliance and awareness; and natural and sustainable product manufacturing.

Brendan Huffman, executive director of the Chambers of Commerce Alliance of Ventura & Santa Barbara Counties, opened the summit with a discussion of Sacramento politics. He listed a variety of state propositions that the alliance is backing in the November election. He also said the alliance will be making candidate endorsements for the first time in its five-year history.

Noozhawk business writer Ray Estrada can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Support Noozhawk Today!

Our professional journalists work tirelessly to report on local news so you can be more informed and engaged in your community. This quality, local reporting is free for you to read and share, but it's not free to produce.

You count on us to deliver timely, relevant local news, 24/7. Can we count on you to invest in our newsroom and help secure its future?

We provide special member benefits to show how much we appreciate your support.

I would like give...
Great! You're joining as a Red-Tailed Hawk!
  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >

Meet Your Realtor Sponsored by Village Properties

Photo of Elizabeth Wagner
Elizabeth Wagner
"I typically do whatever it takes to properly expose the property and get it out to the widest possible audience."

Full Profile >