School board talks Affordable Care Act
Approved funds and grants took a back seat at the October meeting of the Hamblen County Board of Education while the effects of the Affordable Care Act were front and center.
“Next year is a big issue we’ll have to brace for,” HCDOE Personnel Liaison Scott Bolton said.
HCDOE will have to track part-time employee’s hours since the eligibility of insurance will depend on how many hours they work per week or per month. Some part-time employees could be potentially eligible for insurance benefits. Eligibility will depend on if employees work either 30 hours per week or 130 hours per month.
“Since our system is so big, it may behoove us to track by the 130 hours per month,” Bolton said.
A tracking system has not yet been implemented, but the board is surveying the options.
For employees who work the selected time frame, they must be provided with Minimum Essential Coverage.
“This is basically what we offer all employees,” Bolton said. “Offering those things, we have to have a ‘Look Back’ period, which ranged from six months to a year.”
The “Look Back” period is how employee eligibility will be determined. For example, if an employee goes through a “Look Back” period for a year and it is decided that he or she has worked the 30 hours a week or 130 hours a month, he or she must be provided with Minimum Essential Coverage for at least a year. The “Look Back” period is equal to the amount of insurance provided.
“The main things about all this are the penalties that would go into place in January 2015,” Bolton said. “The big one is the ‘No Coverage Penalty.’”
The No Coverage Penalty goes into affect when more than 5 percent of employees who work at least 30 hours a week or 130 hours a month are not provided with MEC. There is a safe harbor within that 5 percent, but if the amount of employees not provided with MEC fall above 5 percent, $166.67 will be assessed each month they go without coverage up to $2,000 a year per employee.
If more than 5 percent of the eligible employees are not offered MEC and go to the federal exchange, then the school district is penalilzed per full-time employee, even those that have been offered MEC.
For example, if 1,000 HCDOE employees go without coverage, which is more than 5 percent and $2,000 is assessed for each one, that equals $2 million as a penalty being assessed from HCDOE for not offering 95 percent of their employees MEC.
School employees seeking more information on the Affordable Care Act and how it pertains to HCDOE employees’ insurance, contact Scott Bolton at Boltons@hcboe.net. For more information on the Affordable Care Act in general, visit the Affordable Care Act web page at www.citizentribune.com.
Further on the agenda was a homeless grant accepted by the board at $76,000. What this grant includes is tutoring, school supplies, transportation, free or reduced lunch and more for students who have been deemed homeless due to any extents including but not limited to house fires, natural disasters and economic hardships.
Currently, there are 395 students who qualify for this assistance.
Also approved were a fire alarm inspection, Alpha video surveillance equipment and 78 desktop computers for high school CTE labs. The approval of these bids and purchases totals at more than $110,000.
All board meetings are open to the public, and the next meeting is Nov. 19.
-By Joshua Dean, Tribune Staff Writer