US

Obama’s hometown government proposes dumping 400 part-timers from health plan

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Michael Volpe
Contributor

Part-time government employees working for Cook County, Illinois — President Obama’s home county — may soon lose their employer-funded health insurance and instead have to move onto Obamacare’s healthcare exchanges.

That move would once again directly contradict President Obama’s promise that Americans who like their health plans could keep them.

In a press release from the Office of Cook County Board President, Democrat Toni Preckwinkle announced that she has proposed that all part time local government employees be removed from the county’s health plan or pay the entirety of it from their own funds starting July 1, 2014.

“The proposal would require employees and officials who receive less than full-time County pay to pick up the full share of their health benefits,” Preckwinkle said in the statement. “Those who choose not to will have the option of obtaining healthcare through a health insurance marketplace, accessing healthcare through other employment, or accessing the healthcare plan of a spouse, partner or family member. The change would take place July 1, 2014 to allow individuals time to review their choices. The County estimates that the plan will affect roughly 400 individuals, including Cook County circuit court and associate judges, part-time crossing guards and commissioners for the Chicago Board of Elections.”

Preckwinkle’s office said that the proposal would save the county $2.2 million in 2014 and $4 million annually after that. Preckwinkle said the move was done for the sake of equity, fairness, and fiscal discipline.

“We want to ensure that County employees and officials have access to health benefits, but the approach has to be fair and it needs to make sense financially,” President Preckwinkle said. “We’re taking reasonable steps to improve how we manage the County’s benefits.”

Naomi Lopez-Bauman, a healthcare policy analyst with the Illinois Policy Institute, told TheDC that she isn’t surprised by the announcement because Obamacare has led to increased costs for businesses, municipal governments, and colleges all over the country.