ROCKET SCIENCE? Colo. Universities Cite High Costs of ObamaCare

December 27, 2013
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Colorado colleges told lawmakers they are bracing for increased premium hikes associated with Obamacare

Colorado colleges told lawmakers they are bracing for increased premium hikes associated with Obamacare

DENVER – Colorado higher education institutions might be caught in a Catch 22, attempting to throttle skyrocketing tuition costs versus grappling with soaring health care premium costs caused by the Affordable Care Act dubbed ObamaCare.

The institutions have been hit with higher premium costs – but unlike small businesses and individuals, the state employees may be buffered from the burden of ObamaCare.

It seems that Gov. John Hickenlooper and the state employees’ union, Colorado Wins, are working on a plan to grant pay raises and put a lid on health care premium costs for state workers.

To assess the damage, the state legislature’s Joint Budget Committee asked, “How will the Affordable Care Act decrease health care costs for employees? Does your institution of higher education anticipate long-term savings?”

The higher education entities responded that there is no foreseeable long-term savings. Instead, they are bracing for increased premium hikes.

Insurance premium costs will spike in January 2015 when adjunct instructors, who work 30 hours or more per week, must be afforded health care coverage. Failure to do so could result in massive fines levied against the education institutions.

The University of Colorado System, which includes CU Boulder, CU Denver and University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, estimated that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will have a $1.2 million impact on the CU Health Trust. Of that “90 percent will be absorbed by the employer and 10 percent by the employees.”

In addition, some education institutions like the University of Colorado System plan to hire one fulltime employee, paid an estimated $50,000 a year, to track and provide coverage to those who work 30 or more hours a week.

Colorado State University System, which includes CSU Pueblo, CSU Fort Collins and other campuses, said, “CSU does not anticipate any savings from ACA. Conversely, we anticipate an increase to overall premium costs… in the order of $750,000 – $1 million annually.”

“The Act has actually resulted in increased costs in the form of fees and taxes that raise premiums for employees,” declared CSU. “For example, our premium increase for 2014 will be approximately 5.5 percent of which 1.9 percent can be attributable to projected claims, and the balance of approximately 3.5 percent is due to ACA fees and taxes.”

Colorado Mesa University is also bearing the burden of paying ACA fees and taxes.  “As an example, in this calendar year, 2013, CMU has been charged $75 per prescriber for ACA costs and fees by our provider who passed them onto us.”

CMU predicted “it is unlikely to decrease health care costs for employees” and the institution has already had to bear increased premium rates.

The university in Grand Junction also plans to spend taxpayer money to upgrade its system of tracking part-time employees and adjunct professors whose hours may increase to 30 or more per week.

“If we should fail to offer health coverage to 95 percent of our eligible employees (we do not expect to fail) and one of those employees receives a premium tax credit in the exchange, CMU would penalized $2,000 x the number of employees (an amount totaling) $1.3 million.”

Under ACA and the Colorado’s health coverage exchange, CMU officials noted, individuals living in Mesa County, mountain communities and outlying eastern and western areas are unfairly assessed higher premium rates.

The current and future adverse financial impacts of ACCA were shared in responses from Western State University in Gunnison, Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado School of Mines in Golden, the Community College System, University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, Metropolitan State University in Denver and Adams State in Alamosa.

Perhaps the financial blow will be cushioned.

In July, state employees were granted raises between 2 percent and 4.4 percent. Now, the state employees’ union, Colorado WINS, is campaigning for a 3 percent pay increase – twice the amount proposed Hickenlooper for the fiscal year 2014-15 budget.

Colorado Wins criticized Hickenlooper’s meager pay raise request, but praised the governor for budget “proposals that will have a positive impact on our lives, such as putting 1.5 percent more (taxpayer funds) towards merit pay and making sure that Health/Life/Dental premiums don’t increase.”

Comments made by visitors are not representative of The Colorado Observer staff.

5 Responses to ROCKET SCIENCE? Colo. Universities Cite High Costs of ObamaCare

  1. Bob Terry
    December 28, 2013 at 8:52 am

    Universities crying the Blues …Obama Obamacare and Democratic / Liberal Government hows that workin for ya…LOL Colorado Wins…good grief .. You helped in voting for this garbage… Like an Old Railroad Conductor I worked with said…”suffer and let there be plenty” we reap what what we sow

  2. Bob Simpson
    December 28, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    Hey, Udall and Benett (and other Senators) convinced Harry Reid to get a meeting set up for the US Senate and their staff members to whine and moan to Obama about the unaffordably high costs associated with Obamacare. After all, how could a $174,000+ a year Senator or any of his/her staff possibly afford Obamacare. Well Obama came to the rescue….He authorized all members of Congress, all their staff members, all of Obama’s Czars, all of Obama’s cabinet members , all members of the Supreme Court and on and on, to get a 75% subsidy for their health care insurance, at us taxpayer’s expense of course. Gov Chickenpooper, recognizing that this could cause a problem with his re-election if he tried this, chose a different tactic! He is supporting a “raise” to cover his state workers’ cost of Obamacare, again, at taxpayer expense! WOW, isn’t this just special and way beyond fair?

  3. Bob Simpson
    December 28, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    I have an idea that should satisfy the liberal, liar Party……..Why don’t we just give all of our income to them, they can spend it however they like to insure equal distribution and then, they can rebate anything that is left back to us! Would that work? Hell, we might even be able to pay for our Obamacare Healthcare! What do you think?

  4. Bob Simpson
    December 28, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    On second thought……..how could we ever know/trust when they were telling us the truth or lying to us?

  5. Bob Simpson
    December 28, 2013 at 6:06 pm

    Hey DemocRATS, I have a solution for you to get my vote! You assume my debt, you assume my responsibilities, you assume all of my obligations and I’ll just lean back and enjoy life. The government you prefer will cover me; right! I need not worry about my family or their lives because the DemocRAT party will provide for them. I need not worry about healthcare because the Party’s appointed beaurocrats will provide for me and my family, I need not worry about our Foreign Policy which could destroy all of our lives ( like it did Ambassador Stevens), because Obama is in charge and is looking out for us, I don’t need to worry about the
    $17 Trillion dollars in debt that we have, because Obama says it doesn’t matter. Pardon me while I puke!

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