Thursday, October 10, 2013

NorCo Workforce Angry at HealthCare Increases

A Northampton County budget hearing is right up there with root canal, sitting in a church or waiting for a bus. It's not a big draw.But yesterday afternoon, there were fifty union workers there to protest health insurance increases that Director of Human Resources Pat Siemiontkowski announced at the County Council meeting last week. She said that, under Obamacare, the County's plan is considered a "Cadillac" plan that will start triggering major taxes in 2018. She said changes had to be made now, and unfortunately, they would require much more from the workers. Co-insurance for single persons would be $2,250, with a family costing $4,500.

Leading the charge, AFSCME union agent Justus James complained he was "blindsided" by these changes, which he contends are based on a misconception of Obamacare. Pointing out that Gracedale workers have already made significant concessions (and he's right about that), James called the increases a "slap to the face of everybody who works in the County, whether you're union or nonunion." Another union leader, Sean Carson, told Council these changes are "nearly impossible for me to sell."

These ladies did not want to smile, but finally did. 
James and Carson both gave a good general description of the problem, which is very real and is going to have a very bad impact on people who see modest raises consumed by commuter taxes and rising medical costs. I know several people who are going to be about $2,000 below where they were about four years ago. Things are going in the wrong direction.

But James and Carson fell short on offering solutions.

And as Council went about reviewing budget items, employees slowly left.

Someone in this field has told me that Siemiontkowski is completely wrong for the following reasons:

First, because the County Plan is fully self-funded, it can be grandfathered in with no adverse effects or tax.

Second, the County plan is cheaper than COBRA, which is what triggers the Cadillac classification. But I am told that when COBRA rates are adjusted each year, after reviewing the annual actuarial audit, they are higher than what is paid by the County.

This person may be the one who is wrong. I don't know.

I believe something this major needs to be reviewed thorough by an independent health insurance professional, with an eye to minimizing costs to the county workforce. If she is right, then it might be possible to implement medical savings accounts as an alternative to what is going to hurt people who should not have to suffer.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

Stoffa once again has his head up his ass. Ask about the person who was told "to lie" for the Admisntration. How do you think we get a no tax increase budget next year? One of the steps is by bullshitting the employees and using "Obamacare" as the boogeyman. Stoffa has made a career out of screwing things up and blaming everyone else.

Of course the clueless buffoons on county council will just sit and nod, they aren't even smart enough to know what questions to ask.

The election and next year can't come soon enough. The bullshit this Admisntration has spun over the years is deeper than the Grand Canyon but this is one of the worst deceptions to date.

Give Stoffa credit, he can bullshit with the best of them and keep a straight face.

Anonymous said...

From the cadillac plan to the p.o.n.t.i.a.c. plan

Anonymous said...

This would be an all tome low for Stoffa but we all remember he tried to "dump Gracedale". The man is a vindictive prick and county council is useless.

Even the budget guy said they have been living off the huge Reibman surplus and when Stoffa leaves the money is gone with him. How did
Stoffa mange not to raise taxes? he gave himself and his pals huge increase every year and used the budget reserve to take care of his buddies.

Good luck paying for the John Stoffa Human Service's Building and all the Ken Mohr contracts with no money, ya monkeys!

Anonymous said...

Everyone is going to pay more under the affordable care act. It has nothing to do with stoffa. Yes we can..yes we can

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqALdkTArqs&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Bernie O'Hare said...

Alrighty then.

Anonymous said...

anon 1:06, you are full of an avalanche off Bullshit Mountain(Faux news). Stoffa is just his usual incompetent self doing his usual blame game.

The Act isn't even in full until 2018 and there is still the government opt out that Stoffa used to screw his retirees. It would appear he uses the parts of the law that does the most damage and ignore the parts that would help people.

Sounds like an appropriate summary of his elected career.

Anonymous said...

On TV69 both Stoffa and Barron gave an interview. Stoffa came off as the ass. He claimed this wasn't necessary at this time but he is doing the employees a favor by starting early, without a real; plan.

He also admits he knew he wanted to do this for some time but had his people hide it from the employees and county council till the last minute.

What a guy!!

Anonymous said...

anything that screws the over paid, over benefited, under worked crybaby union pukes is good.

Anonymous said...

Look, if we're going to provide health care to 20 million uninsured people, someone has to pay for it. AFSME had to get the bill passed to see what was in it.

"Of course, I want people to have health care," said a California Obama supporter. "I just didn't realize I would be the one who was going to pay for it personally."

Anonymous said...

Didn't the afscme workers at Gracedale already give up alot? Now a 2000 to 4000 dollar deductible. What did everyone else who works at Gracedale give up?

Anonymous said...

The county is self insured for this kind of problem but if it doesn't effect anyone on county council directly it's no big deal I guess. Kind of sounds like congress. Typical government

Bernie O'Hare said...

What on earth are you saying? Every one of those Council members is paying attention, and I believe one of them had something to do or knew about your presence there. But you came to a budget hearing, not some meeting where you could talk about your problems exclusively. they may not be part of your plan and should not be part of your plan, but you vote for them and they know that. Give them a break. They want to help you. Give Stoffa a break. He will listen to you, and is upset about this situation.

Bernie O'Hare said...

7:11, Your point is fair.

Anonymous said...

The real shame is this is more smoke and mirrors by Stoffa. Mr. Hammond made that pretty clear. Stoffa ahs been living large off the Reibman largesse. In order to keep his no tax increase record after screwing the pooch on the swaption, he needs to raise some easy capitol in the budget. So he goes after the employees through the back door. Not necessary. Not even an issue if it even becomes one until 2018.

Of course then he does the Stoffa shuffle, "blame someone else" and blames the President.

Once again Mr. Stoffa you are truly King of the incompetents but also Prince of the Bullshitters. Well played. Ron Angle must be proud!

Anonymous said...

The money afscme gave back to gracedale went directly to overpay for nazareth ambulance's overbid. Not a dime was saved. Gracedale wasn't helped at all. Thanks for playing the Gracedale shell game. You got screwed by Peg Ferraro's reelection campaign and she didn't even buy you drinks first. On the benefit front, this is the part of the Obamacare bill we really should have read before passing, despite Nancy Pelosi's advice. Perhaps you should have voted for McCain. Bummer.

Anonymous said...

Ok 4:01 so you done like Peg. ACA will not effect the county till 2018. This seems like a way for Stoffa to screw more county employees. The afscme contract gave back 3 million a year. I believe these are the lowest paid employees at Gracedale and they were the only ones to give anything back. I've been to Gracedale and I have seen those lpns and nurses aides bust there butts to provide quality care to the residents there. The administration and RNs and social workers have given back nothing. Clearly they make more money but least paid workers have footed the bill. Now there health care has to go up because of something that may effect the in 2018.

Anonymous said...

5:23,

Thanks for your money. I bought votes with it.

Love,

Peg

Anonymous said...

Hahaha yes we can!!!

Anonymous said...

Scott Walker?

Anonymous said...

If you think John Stoffa and the current teabagger Republican county council is bad, just with until John Brown and the new teabagger Republicans get elected.

Anonymous said...

If Stoffa is wrong Callahan will give back the money. Who did you think would be paying for the uninsured and the illegals who pay nothing under Obamacare? You all will pay more and get less. It's how it has to be done. You wanted the democrats in charge you got the middle finger. Why would Stoffa do this only to have the next executor come in and reverse it? No one can believe this. And for the no taxes well they used some of the money Lamont always cries about. Pretty simple I'd say. The next guy will be forced to raise taxes in the next year or two. We will be out of our so called extra money. Council will vote to cut jobs or raise taxes. Good time for some to be leaving. Where is Anhle when u need him?

Anonymous said...

The one young nurse dressed in the black scrubs is a hottie. Do you know her or her name Bern? She could clean my bed pan anytime.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Be polite, please. She is an attractive woman, works at Gracedale, and I remember her speaking about it quite forcefully at a meeting in Northampton.