WEST JORDAN, Utah-Large credit unions have a real opportunity to assist their smaller counterparts as they begin the process of implementing the new healthcare law, according to one person.

Suzanne Oliver, SVP of educational services with Mountain America CU vice chair of the CUNA HR Council, told Credit Union Journal that because employees of smaller CUs often wear multiple hats and juggle a variety of responsibilities, they don't always have the time or expertise necessary to keep up with new regulations. It's up to the bigger CUs, she said, to take the lead with healthcare. Those CUs can also work with their state associations, which she said are well positioned to aid small CUs.

"Just like compliance and some of the other requirements that are now part of the financial services industry, it's really tough for small CUs to be able to keep up and address all of these key issues," she said.

Oliver noted that the HR Council has been closely following the issue, and she said that the group is brainstorming topics for its next round of webinars and white papers, including some on health care. She said that webinars on the topic should begin to appear within the next few months, followed by white papers. The HR Council also hopes to be able to provide more specific information to credit unions on a case-by-case basis.

More Mergers As Result?Just as the increased compliance burden in recent years has led some small CUs to merge with their larger counterparts, Oliver speculated that could also happen with small CUs unable to cope with the new healthcare law as a way to better absorb those costs. "I wouldn't be surprised; that could certainly be a result if some say 'Oh, this is just one more thing and it's too much of a burden." Oliver stressed that while she viewed mergers as a possibility, the HR Council has a group has not had any discussions on the topic.

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