Share This Page

Pressure off county in complying with health care overhaul — for now

| Thursday, July 4, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Westmoreland County officials said Wednesday they welcome the additional time granted this week to comply with the federal health care law that was to be implemented next year.

On Tuesday, President Obama announced a one-year delay in requiring large employers to comply with the Affordable Health Care law.

Westmoreland County, with its 2,000 workers, started work this week to comply by Jan. 1, 2014.

“We're going to continue, but the urgency isn't as urgent as it was,” Commissioner Charles Anderson said.

The changes are expected to immediately cost the county about $340,000, Anderson said.

Officials have started looking at records relating to the county's roster of more than 250 part-time workers.

Under the health care law, workers who are on the job for 30 hours a week or more are considered full-time employees who would qualify for health care benefits.

During a two-week pay period that ended June 15, 137 employees classified as part-timers exceeded the 30-hour-a-week threshold, according to payroll records obtained from the controller's office.

The county's part-time workers receive no health insurance benefits.

Part-time workers are routinely used to staff vacant positions or to cover for vacations and sick leave at the prison, the Westmoreland Manor nursing home, the sheriff's department and within the park police.

Commissioners said they wanted to trim part-time hours, with formal action being considered as early as July 11.

Plans could include reducing the hours some part-timers work, hiring more part-time employees or converting some of those staffers to full-time status.

“It's a balancing act. Our department heads are aware of the situation, and they've been told to study their departments,” Anderson said.

With the one-year delay, Westmoreland officials have more time to review the situation.

“We need to comply with the law, and we are going to comply with the law,” Commissioner Ted Kopas said.

Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.