By Tiffeny Owens
The Cullman Times
The Affordable Care Act will cost Cullman County $74,000 in new fees annually for the next three years, however those costs will not be passed onto employees who have county health insurance plans, officials said.
Prior to the new sweeping health care law taking effect Oct. 1, county officials voiced worries about how exactly the ACA would impact its self-insured health care insurance. The county has 1,141 contracts for its 500 employees and their families, and it pays Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama to administer the plans.
“Employees will not see any change to their copays, premiums or deductibles even with the extra costs to the county,” said Kim Stabile, Cullman County human resources manager.
County Administrator Gary Teichmiller said although health care cost are always rising, the county hasn’t increased employees’ share of insurance costs since 1999.
Under the Affordable Care Act, uninsured Americans must obtain coverage either on their own through private insurance or through the state or federal exchanges by Jan. 1, 2014 or face penalties. The fee is $95 per adult, $47.50 per child, or 1% of your income (whichever is higher), and the penalty increases every year. The exchanges opened Oct.1, with enrollment ending March 31, 2014. For those who enroll by December 15, coverage can begin January 1, 2014.
“We accounted for the health insurance increases in our budget, and the new fees under the Affordable Care Act are supposed to end after three years, but we don’t really know.”
On Tuesday, commissioners said they were frustrated by having to pay the extra $222,000 over the next three years.
“That’s taxpayer money that’s going into a pool to pay for health insurance for people who don’t have it when it could be used to pave roads in Cullman County,” said Chairman Kenneth Walker. “I hope the Republicans in Washington D.C. could stand up and get this thing kicked out.”
According to figures provided to the county by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama, BCBS customers in the state will be charged an extra $241 million in fees in 2014 under the new health care law, another $206 million in 2015 and $162 million in 2016, for a total of $609 million over three years. Stabile said the federal government expects to collect a total of $25 billion over the next three years from Americans who have health insurance to fund the insurance exchanges.
The Cullman County Commission conducted other business Tuesday:
* Approved minutes from Oct. 8 meeting, appropriations, expenditures, requisitions and all journal entries to be posted.
* Approved $36,101 to be paid out of the Juvenile Probation Services fund for renovations to the office to be completed by Eidson and Associates in Cullman.
* Confirmed City of Cullman’s $2 million abatement for Royal Technologies Corp. for additional machinery.
* Confirmed City of Cullman’s $9.5 million abatement for Alabama Cullman Yutaka Technologies for building expansion, personal property and additional machinery.
* Confirmed City of Cullman’s $14.5 million abatement for Alabama Cullman Yutaka Technologies for building expansion, personal property and additional machinery.
* Confirmed $180,000 abatement for Robson Company, a plastic injected molding facility in Vinemont, for equipment and machinery.
* Adopted standards of conduct concerning employee engagement in the award and administration of contracts in relation to federal funding received through the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA). The adoption is contingent on the county confirming with ADECA that the standards are required for the application of future grants. The county is pursuing a $53,230 grant through ADECA to install lighting at Stony Lonesome OHV Park.
* Authorized Chairman Kenneth Walker and Cullman County Emergency Management Agency Director Phyllis Little to sign fiscal 2013 cooperative agreement for $17,000 in State Mortuary Operations Response Team (SMORT) funding. The funds will be used for training of the team’s 48 members and maintenance on its refrigerated trucks.
*Approved Associate Commissioner Darrell Hicks’ appointment of Brandon Ray to the Cullman County Industrial Development Authority Board to fill the unexpired term of Greg Barksdale, with Ray’s term to end Jan. 19, 2019.
* Approved $25,769 to build a service bay at the county garage by Harris Steel and Metals in Hanceville.
* Approved $12,500 for sandblasting and painting of two fuel tanks and awning for pumps at the Westside Road Department by Yeager Sandblasting and Painting in Baileyton.
‰ Declared surplus and sold as scrap on Polaris ATV from the OHV Park.
* Declared the following items surplus from the Road Department to be disposed of as follows: Clarklift Powerworker Model ST30B, airport; Hewlett Packard Design Jet 750C printer, scrap; Savin copy machine, scrap; Hollingsworth gasoline generator, govdeals.com; Mikasa Sangyo temping hammer, govdeals.com; air compressor with Kohler Magnum 18 engine, govdeals.com; 2000-watt Homelite generator, govdeals.com; Montgomery Ward 2250-watt generator, govdeals.com; LP propane tank DOT, govdeals.com; Detroit diesel engine, govdeals.com; Walker shop crane three-quarter ton, govdeals.com; 1974 Lowboy trailer, govdeals.com; eight gas heaters, govdeals.com and miscellaneous office furniture, govdeals.com.
* Ratified the following personnel actions: Joseph Laningham, James Overton, Marty Speegle, Cletus McDonald, Wesley Self, Max Daniel and Jonathan Eddleman, Road Department, all to receive step raises on anniversaries of hiring; in the Sheriff’s Department, Joseph Woods resigned and Nicholas Buchanan and Cheryl Hawkins are new hires; in the Sanitation Department, Caleb Wood is a new hire and Matthew Reeves resigned; Lorri Lee in Commission on Aging was rehired and Steven Johns in Road Department received a pay increase and became a permanent employee after routine six-month probationary new hire period.
The commission will hold a work session 8:30 a.m. Nov. 12, followed by its regular meeting at 10 a.m.
Tiffeny Owens can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at 256-734-2131, ext. 135.