City approves Obamacare contract

JOHNSTOWN – The Common Council on Monday approved a $4,000 draft agreement with a firm to perform administrative services for the city so it can comply with the federal Affordable Care Act.

The council approved a 2014 “consulting and administrative services” agreement with Benetech Inc. of North Greenbush at its meeting at City Hall. The company recently gave a presentation to the council about how it can help the city deal with the Affordable Care Act, which also is referred to as Obamacare. The firm would do initial testing to see if the city is complying with the act.

Mayor Sarah Slingerland said Benetech was very concise in its presentation on how it can assist the city with the legislation.

“I think we have a nice understanding of what’s going on moving forward,” she said.

City Treasurer Michael Gifford said the agreement is for about $4,000 for services related to 129 city government employees, including 86 full-time employees who work 30 or more hours per week.

The federal statute signed into law in March 2010 includes multiple provisions over years, including expansion of Medicaid eligibility, establishment of health insurance exchanges and prohibiting health insurers from denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions. Large employers must offer minimum essential coverage to substantially cover all of its full-time employees or pay a penalty. The act has a measurement period from two months ago to September 2014.

Services provided by Benetech will include: an overview of the data collection process, guidance on how data is captured and tabulated, detailed Excel file layouts, detailed Affordable Care Act definitions of data elements gathered, and consultation during the collection process. Benetech will also provide the city a detailed list of documentation required for compliance, such as current summary plan descriptions, internal policies regarding eligibility, waiting periods and collective bargaining agreements.

Testing services will include verifying full-time equivalent employees and whether current plans meet the act’s definition of minimum essential coverage.