The Pryor Times

February 21, 2013

Commissioners hear about PPACA

Cydney Baron
Staff Reporter

PRYOR, OK — The Mayes County Board of Commissioners meeting agenda looked short and sweet Tuesday, but contained a big ticket item.

Kurt Schultz, along with associates from Ameribank Group Benefits and Community Care, gave a presentation.

“Thank you for having me. I’ve never attended a Mayes County Commissioner meeting, but my mother did. She spoke highly of you guys,” said Schultz, son of the late Lucy Belle Schultz. “I had conversations with her before she passed about the work we do with Ameribank. We’ve recently become members of the ACCO and we are active participants.

“My purpose here today is to educate and inform and to let you know what’s going on with Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), or Obamacare,” said Schultz.

A representative of Community Care went through a power point presentation with the commissioners, outlining what they referred to as “Key Discussion Items- PPACA/Health Care Reform.”

He began by explaining that PPACA was passed in March of 2010. According to his presentation, by 2014, the group health plan marketplace will change dramatically based on PPACA. These changes include penalties for larger employers, employers required to offer minimum essential coverage, exchanges available for small group policies and individual mandates for most individuals to be insured.

The commissioners listened as he went on to explain the penalty that U.S citizens and legal residents would be required to have qualifying health coverage in 2014 or pay a tax penalty. In 2014 the penalty is “one percent of household income above tax filing threshold.”  In the following two years, the penalty rises to two and then two and a half percent.

He then spoke about “Pay or Play,”  which he said is to “attract, motivate and retain quality employees.” This involved individual exchanges and subsidized coverage, all in relation to the federal poverty level.

The representatives reminded the commissioners that they can do an affordability test, free of charge, at any time. The affordability test explores the number of county employees and number of spouses and dependents getting insurance coverage from the county as well as household income levels.

At the end of the presentation, a question was posed to the Ameribank Group about the role an Indian Card would play in this health care reform.

They replied that it is a separate matter altogether.

Schultz posed a rhetorical question to the commissioners. “As employees on the state plan, do you have someone to partner with to understand PPACA?” said Schultz. He then opened the floor for questions.

Another representative of Ameribank spoke up with a question for everyone present.

“I want to know how much people know about PPACA. We hear about it and read about it but how much have you paid attention to it. Do you discuss it with your co-workers or talk about it with your family?

“If the answer is no, don’t be embarrassed or think you’re uninformed,” said an Ameribank Representative. “It’s just now becoming a reality. We’ve been able to ignore it.”

District 1 Commissioner Alva Martin told the group it would be considered and placed back on the agenda in the future.

County employees present provided feedback for the commissioners, on their likes and dislikes as well as their fears and concerns.

Sheriff Mike Reed suggested people make calls to their state representative to find out if this reform is something Oklahomans will even need to worry about.

The commissioners voted to request that Schultz do the free Affordability Test.

A motion was made by District 3 Commissioner Ryan Ball to approve the Road Maintenance Agreement. The motion was seconded by Martin and approved.