Grayson County commissioners this week got a quick primer on how the Affordable Care Act could impact the county’s budget in 2015. The upshot of the conversation county leaders had with Lisa McCaig and Diana Cecil of the Texas Association of Counties is that the County will have to closely watch the number of hours worked by anyone categorized as part-time or seasonal.

Grayson County commissioners this week got a quick primer on how the Affordable Care Act could impact the county’s budget in 2015. The upshot of the conversation county leaders had with Lisa McCaig and Diana Cecil of the Texas Association of Counties is that the County will have to closely watch the number of hours worked by anyone categorized as part-time or seasonal.


If just one such employee works an average of 30 hours a week or more, the County could be on the line for a fine of $2,000 per every Grayson County employee. The County has approximately 500 employees. The County employees who are listed as full-time and offered a health care plan do not have to be kept under 30 hours a week.


TAC representatives told the Court the rule will not actually go into effect until 2015, but the Court needs to start soon figuring out how the county will keep track of the hours worked by employees that will be counted under the Act. Commissioners discussed making a rule that no employee who could be counted under the Act will be allowed to work over 29 hours per week.


Since the hours will be averaged over a period of time, Cecil told commissioners it is important that the schedules be watched carefully. TAC employees explained that it will be the IRS that will audit County records to make sure that no employees who are eligible are allowed to work over 29 hours.


McCaig said the County will get to pick the length of time that will be considered by the IRS. TAC employees recommended 15 months because that will give the County a time to offer health insurance to eligible employees who go over 30 hours. The time period is important, TAC representatives said, because it will determine how long the county must provide insurance to part-time employees if any are determined to have worked more than part-time under the Act.


The penalty is triggered, the representatives said, if the county offers insurance to less than 95 percent of its workforce and anyone who is classified as part-time goes over 29 hours a week.


"I would just have a stead fast policy that they can’t work over 29 hours," one of the representatives said about the part-time employees. The Court took no action on the issue Tuesday and will discuss it again when it is provided with more information from TAC on the topic.