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Local News

July 19, 2013

Otsego tallies costs of new health law

(Continued)

The county workforce is expected to shrink considerably if a local development corporation set up by the representatives this year is successful in finding a buyer for the Otsego Manor nursing home and closing on the real estate transaction. The Manor now has 269 workers — more than a third of the total county workforce. County officials have said they hope the Manor can be privatized some time in 2014.

Because of the mandates of the Affordable Health Care Act, Bachman said, the county was preparing to offer health care insurance to the approximately 50 Manor workers who currently work part-time for an average of 30 hours a week but do not qualify for coverage under existing rules. It’s that part of the program that’s being delayed until January 2015.

“The delay is definitely a positive thing for the county, because our health care costs would have been much higher” if the program kicked in in January, Bachman said.

The key part of the law that Obama has delayed would have had a much costlier impact on the county’s purse strings — the requirement that larger employers provide health care for workers or pay a fine. Most of the county workers who work part-time are on the Manor’s payroll, and by the time that section of the law becomes effective, they will no longer be county employees if the sale of the 174-bed nursing home is completed next year.

On Thursday, Obama, in remarks at the White House, said health care costs have “slowed drastically in a lot of areas since we passed the Affordable Care Act.” He added that “health care inflation isn’t sky-rocketing the way it was.”

He also contended that health care consumers are benefiting from the controversial law, which, according to a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, is viewed by 49 percent of Americans as a bad idea while only 37 percent say it’s a good idea.

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