Sioux City preparing stronger alternative health care plan for p - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Sioux City preparing stronger alternative health care plan for part-time employees

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SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -

The Affordable Federal Health Care Act is changing how workers are covered all across the country. The new plans must be in place by January 2014 or face some serious consequences.

"The city was subject to $1.6 million in fines, if we did not develop an alternative," said Paul Eckert, city manager for Sioux City.

That meant part-time employees who work more than 30 hours each week needed coverage. 50 to 60 employees who fell under that category had their hours cut. The rest already worked under the threshold. Sioux City mayor Bob Scott says the changes are long overdue.

"Part-time people that work almost full time should have some sort of benefit. So, I think personally, I'm excited that we're able to provide that. I think that it'll give the employees some incentive to stay with the organization long-term," said Scott.

The focus of the hearing was to determine how to develop a health care plan for the part-time employees, who work close to full time hours.

"Either that or we have everybody go under 29 hours, which makes it very difficult for some departments," said Bob Scott.

Eckert says several places, including the Tyson Events Center and Sioux City Convention Center made those cuts in hours, since Jan. 1.

"We've had to draw some of their hours down and it's put a lot of pressure on the department to get those services provided," said Eckert.

With property taxes still expected to go up, Eckert explained that several city departments will have to cut their budget this year, so that tax payers don't have to bare a bigger burden of pay for the increased health care coverage costs.

Still, the city is confident in the direction council is headed. Employees will return to their normal schedules Monday.

"It was sizeable for a lot of the employees, so we're glad that we were able to make some changes, to bring back their schedules back to where they were prior to January 1," said Eckert.

Next, they'll begin to look at an alternative health care plan for their other part-time workers.

"We're going to be on top of this and start to begin to implement it right now, even though we don't have to until later," said Scott.

Eckert estimates it could take months to get the final details of the new health care plan hammered out.

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