Bibb County commissioners listened Tuesday morning to what challenges the county might face with its health care plan in 2014 -- even though a new consolidated government will be in place by January.
As commissioners noted in Tuesdays Human Resources Committee meeting, its difficult for the county to prepare for upcoming changes in health care law under the upcoming Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that will be enacted in 2014.
Under the new law, employers must have a health care plan in place that covers at least 60 percent of an employees medical costs, or pay a penalty. In addition, employees cant pay more than 9.5 percent into a plan, according to the new law.
Charles Carlson, who made the presentation to commissioners on behalf of Blue Cross/Blue Shield Healthcare as part of an end-of-the-year report to the county, told commissioners that they already were above the 60 percent threshold.
Commissioners noted that many of the changes the new law will bring means examining a plethora of possibilities.
For example, Commissioner Gary Bechtel noted that it would actually be cheaper for the county to take what is now a $2,000 penalty per employee by not offering insurance, even if it offered an employee a raise as well, than it would be to pay the current costs of what it takes to provide insurance for that employee.
Its substantially cheaper, Bechtel said. Im not recommending we do it. ... What is in the best interest of the employees? To continue as is, or not offer it? Will we save the taxpayers money? In the era of compressed budgets, its going to be discussed.
Bibb County Chairman Sam Hart, who serves as an ex officio member of the consolidation committee, noted that the consolidated government is required to show 20 percent savings over its first five years, so local leaders will be exploring ways to save costs.
It was informative, he said of the presentation. Were probably going to need a consultant to guide us with that, to show the costs and the savings. Weve got to look at everything. We want an adequate benefits package and we dont want to penalize employees, but we also want to save money for taxpayers.
Currently, health care and other benefits for Macon and Bibb County employees under the new government are being discussed by a team working on consolidation. That committee eventually is supposed to recommend a plan that both the city and the county governments will present to the new government.
Once the new government is in place, it must approve of the plan as well.
Hart said that many of the city and county employees working on the benefits plan will be part of the new government as well, so he thinks whatever is recommended will be honored by the new government.
In other business Tuesday, the commissioners:
Approved requests for the waiving of fees for two charitable events that will be held at Sandy Beach Park -- a local charity bike race to support Central Georgia Autism on April 6, and a 5k run for child abuse prevention held by the Exchange Club of Macon on April 20.
Approved an extension of the protective covenants with the Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority for Ocmulgee East Industrial Park Phase II for a 10-year period.
And authorized the chairman to work with the sheriffs and coroners offices to explore building a cooler facility that would handle bodies for which the coroner has a difficult time establishing identity, or finding relatives, as a way of reducing long-term costs for storage.
To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.