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WJBD - Local News - Marion County Board Debates Affordable Care Act

Marion County Board Debates Affordable Care Act

By Bruce Kropp, WJBD News

Marion County Board Finance Committee Chair Terry Johnston fears the county may not be able to afford to comply with the Affordable Care Act.  

The act requires large employers to provide insurance coverage for full time employees by January first.  Marion County doesn't provide insurance to most employees now, with many receiving a $300 a month stipend in lieu of insurance.   

The committee was told Wednesday night the cost per month for insurance may be in the area of $500 a month.  Johnston says there's no way the county can afford that and keep a balance budget.

"It's devastating to the country budget because it could cost us something in the neighborhood of a quarter of a million dollars. Where we're going to get that money...I'm not sure" said Johnston.

Johnston is also concerned if all employees would want health insurance, instead of the $300 payment.  Even before now, the county board has been concerned about having to eat into past reserves due to inadequate revenue.   

The county's insurance agent, Tom Champion, will try and get a better cost estimate for the group.  The committee will then meet with its labor attorney and accountants to decide how to proceed.  Johnston says the county's only option may be to pay the $100,000 a year penalty for not providing insurance coverage.  

The conversation about the Affordable Health Care Act came as the finance committee begins preparing the county's budget for the fiscal year beginning December first.

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