Time is of essence with Health Care Act

Gary B. Gray • Jan 16, 2013 at 9:08 PM

A sudden break came in the midst of the minutia of dealing with numbers, decimal points and minor transfers at Wednesday’s Washington County Budget Committee meeting.

Department heads came and went as committee members heard their financial pleas and went their way. Enter Assessor of Property Scott Buckingham, who took his seat at a large table and began to explain that he would need roughly $50,000 for a part-time worker to help see him through the nearly 65,000 properties that are now undergoing reappraisals.

“I’m going to have to stop you right there,” County Mayor Dan Eldridge told Buckingham. “The new Affordable Health Care Act makes it so that anyone who works more than 30 hours in any week at any time of the year is eligible for health insurance benefits, and that would cost the county about $500,000.”

Buckingham told Eldridge he understood but that he did not want to halt the reappraisals.

“The burden is going to be on us, otherwise we’re looking at a $10,000 hit for each employee that goes over 30 hours,” Eldridge added.

Effective March 1, the same is true for all employers from governments to restaurants to newspapers with 50 or more full-time employees, whose employees work at least 30 hours a week and work for the employer for more than 120 days in a calendar year. Those employers will be required to offer their employees health coverage or face a stiff fine.

All employers covered under the Fair Labor Standards Act will be required to notify employees of health care exchanges. And by 2014, all employers with 50 or more employees will be required to offer those employees health care coverage. Businesses with fewer than 50 workers are exempt.

So what’s Buckingham to do?

“We’ll be well past the March 1 date before we can finish the reappraisals, so I’ll just have to employ the person up to that time,” he said.

The law does consider employees who work more than 30 hours a week full-time. It also takes into account full-time equivalents. So, 120 hours a month of part-time labor is equal to one employee.

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