XENIA — Greene County officials lamented federal healthcare policy before commissioners approved a benefits plan for county employees Thursday. Commissioners Tom Koogler and Alan Anderson voted in favor of the plan, with Commissioner Bob Glaser voting against.
The approved plan includes a little more than a one-percent increase in healthcare payments for both the county and its employees and includes increases in deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums, which Glaser attributed to “trying to adhere to Obamacare.”
“We’re beginning to dilute our healthcare plan as a result of Obamacare,” he said. “Over the next few years, we will have to continually cut and dilute our health insurance as a result of Obamacare.”
According to county officials, the benefits changes being made relate to avoiding what has been labeled the “Cadillac tax,” a federal excise tax on high-cost employer-provided health coverage. The 40-percent tax, which would take effect in 2018 as part of the Affordable Care Act, would kick in at a pre-determined threshold, which county officials projected they would meet if they didn’t make changes.
Greene County Administrator Brandon Huddleson reported that under its current plan the county would have to pay somewhere between $1.3-1.4 million “right over the top as a penalty.”
“It would go directly to fund the Affordable Care Act,” he said. “…You get nothing for it. It’s just a penalty for having too rich of a plan. That $1.3 million plus that we would be spending in a tax would bring no benefit to the employees of Greene County, or to the residents of Greene County for that matter. We want to do everything we can to avoid paying that.”
Greene County employees number about 820, with their coverage extending to about 1,930 family members.
The approved plan included other changes, including a recognition of same-sex marriages as a result of the Supreme Court’s June ruling legalizing such unions.