Groton Town Government Subject to Affordable Care Act Provisions
Implementation of the Affordable Care Law is being felt in Groton where one of the provisions of this legislation requires any employer with more than 100 employees to participate in the Employer Shared Responsibility Payment.
This means that anyone who works an average 30-hour week during a one-year period in a certain class of job, such as seasonal employees doing building and grounds maintenance at the Country Club or in a variable hours position, would be eligible for healthcare insurance for one year. Other seasonal employees such as lifeguards are not eligible for participation.
Each year employees in this class, along with anyone who may work variable hours, are reviewed to determine if they are eligible for healthcare at the next Open Enrollment Period.
The healthcare is determined on a year-to-year basis. According to Town Accountant Patricia Dufresne, the Employer Shared Responsibility Payment does not refer to the cost of providing Health Insurance to those employees working on average 30 hours per week (who would not otherwise be eligible for benefits) the ESRP refers to the amount that the town would be assessed if that employee was not offered insurance, but was eligible, and if they went to the Health Connector website to purchase insurance on their own, and they were given a Federal Tax Credit for that purchase.
In that case, the town would be assessed a fee of $250 per month (or $3,000 per year) to help subsidize the cost of the Federal Government's ACA program.
In most cases the cost of paying the ESRP would be less than the cost to offer the health insurance, so it may make sense for municipalities to do the analysis before offering the benefit to this subset of employees.
The Board of Selectmen voted to adopt a "lookback" period between April 1 of the current year to March 31 of the following year for eligibility. Town Manager Mark Haddad advised that this year, there were two seasonal employees eligible but that both declined to take it.