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Law May Penalize Benwood Workers

October 8, 2013
The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

Benwood taxpayers should not have to shell out $3,500 to have a consultant find out just what the new national health insurance law, Obamacare, means to city government. And13 city employees who enjoy excellent health care benefits now should not be forced to give them up.

Municipal employees have health insurance paid for entirely by the municipality. There are no deductibles.

Some employees have pointed out that in the past, they decided not to seek pay increases in order to retain their top-shelf health insurance. And Mayor Ed Kuca has said Benwood can afford to provide the coverage.

But regardless of all of that, the city may have to stop providing the full-coverage insurance.

City officials have been told that under Obamacare, small employers will not be permitted to provide such "Cadillac" coverage.

Opinions on that differ. A spokesman for the state Insurance Commissioner told our reporter Obamacare does not prohibit such coverage. But the office of U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said there are limits.

Manchin's office said Obamacare stipulates that employers providing "Cadillac" insurance policies must pay stiff excise taxes.

Benwood officials would like to continue providing the insurance. But if that means paying a penalty, they may not be able to afford it.

So difficult is Obamacare to decipher that city officials have agreed they will have to pay a consultant to look into the question. That is expected to cost about $3,500.

Obamacare is full of absurdities and provisions no one - including federal officials who are supposed to administer the program - seems to understand. The Benwood situation certainly appears to fit into both of those categories. If city officials believe they can afford the "Cadillac" insurance, employees should continue to receive it. And if they have to pay a consultant to find out, well, shame on the federal officials who have spent years touting how wonderful Obamacare would be for everyone.

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