County leaders address Obamacare

JOHNSTOWN – Fulton County government took action this week to deal with the federal Affordable Care Act mandate.

The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday passed three resolutions related to what some refer to as “Obamacare,” the new law that aims to reform the insurance industry to cut healthcare costs and provide affordable health insurance to all Americans.

The board passed a resolution establishing policies governing employee eligibility in Fulton County government’s health insurance plan as it relates to the Affordable Care Act.

“That’s a brand new policy document that the board is going to have to take a look at,” said county Administrative Officer Jon Stead.

It was noted the Affordable Care Art requires the county to offer health insurance coverage to all employees who work an average of 30 hours or more per week. Coverage will be extended to certain additional county employees not covered by a collective bargaining agreement or by policies for non-bargaining employees.

The employee will only be offered coverage via Capital District Physicians Health Plan. Employees are required to contribute 30 percent of the total cost for individual coverage or 50 percent of the total cost for family coverage.

Also affected are employees with individual coverage with less than one year of service. Broadalbin Supervisor Joseph DiGiacomo noted the county is including family coverage the first year, but the ACA doesn’t require that.

County Administrative Officer Jon Stead said only about nine people may be affected by the mandate. He said county Personnel Director Terry Souza indicated since the number was so small, the family coverage could be allowed. But Stead also said the Affordable Care Act “gets so complicated” between individual and family coverages.

“It affects a very small window of people and a small dollar amount,” Stead said.

Souza confirmed Friday the number of county employees affected by the Affordable Care Act is about nine, but “that number changes.”

“It’s not a lot,” she said. “Fulton County’s in pretty good shape as to who we offer health insurance to.”

Stead called the act “convoluted” legislation and said county government will have to “tweak” its health insurance policies in the next year.

The board formally authorized a contract with CDPHP to provide a policy with a prescription rider, effective immediately and running until Dec. 13. Stead said all county employees have an option to access that basic plan during the open enrollment period.

Supervisors also passed a resolution establishing work-week limits for per-diem employees because of the Affordable Care Act.

The resolution says it is the county’s intention “not to cover casual labor arrangements or substitute workers referred to as per-diem employees.” The new policy says employees hired on a per-diem basis will not be scheduled to work more than 24 hours per week, with the only exception being a “serious emergency situation” threatening public safety or property.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at