Firm to help county with Obamacare

JOHNSTOWN – The Fulton County Board of Supervisors will contract with a Rensselaer County firm to help the county with the federal Affordable Care Act, also referred to as Obamacare.

The board authorized a $4,000 contract with Benetech Inc. of North Greenbush. The authorization was recommended by the county’s personnel and finance committees.

Contractually, the firm’s work will extend through Dec. 31.

“This won’t be the last expense you folks will be exposed to with the Affordable Care Act,” county Administrative Officer Jon Stead told county supervisors at a meeting.

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 running until September.

The county resolution says Benetech will perform data testing and reporting procedures required for the act.

The resolution says the act has “imposed many complex requirements for employers and one critical component is the large employer share responsibility,” or what the county referred to as the “play or pay” mandate.

Under the act, all individuals will have to be covered by health insurance or pay a fine. The employer mandate requires employers with at least 50 employees to provide health care coverage for employees or pay a fine.

Benetech’s contract indicates it will provide data testing and reporting to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service on either a monthly or quarterly basis.

The Johnstown Common Council in December approved a similar $4,000 agreement with Benetech to perform administrative services for that city.

Johnstown’s agreement indicates services provided by Benetech 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 provide the city with a detailed list of documentation required for compliance, such as current summary plan descriptions, internal policies regarding eligibility, waiting periods and collective-bargaining agreements.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.