Health care mandate a tough pill for cities to swallow - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Health care mandate a tough pill for cities to swallow

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SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -

Towns across the country will have to decide whether to offer insurance to part-time employees or pay a fine.

Sioux City alone is looking at a four to five million dollar budget increase if they want to cover all of their part-time employees.

At any given time, the city employs 200 to 250 part-time workers.

Under the Affordable Health Care Act, large employers, including municipalities, will have to offer a health care plan to those folks who clock in for more than 29 hours.

Assistant City Manager and Finance Director Bob Padmore says they're carefully considering three options.

One is to reduce part-time employees to 29-hours, so that they don't have to offer insurance, another is to pay the $3,000 per person fine, or offer the insurance plan.

"I think it's coming to a shock for a lot of people, just exactly what the health care act means in relation to part-time employees.  I don't think there was a lot of anticipation that this was going to happen," said Padmore.

He said no decision has been made, but they are leaning toward cutting hours to keep from triggering the mandatory insurance coverage.  However, city officials admit they're concerned that would add insult to injury.

"We're going to lose some really, really good people, but again I don't know how quite frankly we can afford to do it.  It's not in the cards to do four or five million dollars so we're going to have to have some discussion," explained Mayor Bob Scott.    

The healthcare mandate doesn't take effect until January of 2014, but they'll have to come up with the right prescription sooner.  Padmore says the city has to start tracking employee hours next spring.   He hopes the council can make a decision in the next 30 to 60-days.  But, Scott doubts they can find a solution that quickly.

 

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