Counties Prepare For Phasing In Of Affordable Care Act Provisions


Wisconsin counties have begun taking steps to avoid penalties and extra costs as the Affordable Care Act begins to roll out.

Under the Affordable Care Act, employers, including county governments, will have to set what are known as look-back periods by July 1. This establishes a time frame where the federal government measures employment and hours to determine who qualifies for health insurance in the next year. During the look-back period, anyone who gets more than 30 hours per week is considered full time under the act and will qualify for health insurance the next year.

Because of this, Chippewa County Administrator Frank Pascarella announced they are dropping about 15 three-quarter time positions: “We’re restructuring the departments to eliminate three-quarter time positions, and basically go to a part-time position.”

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Pascerella says reworking these positions will help them avoid $163,000 in added insurance costs under the new law.

In Douglas County, Administrator Andy Lisak says they are more worried about the health care act’s “Cadillac health plan” tax: When an individual health plans costs more than $10,020 per year, the extra, or the excise, will be taxed at 40 percent. Lisak says this could cost the county an additional $300,000 by 2018.

“Even if we project minimum increases, we still will run up against those Cadillac tax levels. We would be faced with two options: Either, A, paying the excise tax, or B, having to reduce the benefits that we offer within our health plan.”

Both administrators say that although it will increase costs to counties, it will also increase the number of people covered.