We can now add the name of Middletown Township NJ to the likes of Papa John's, Applebees, Deny's, Red Lobster and the many other similar corporate institutions that have decided that it is better to cut employee hours (and livelihoods) than give its hard working, part-time employees health care coverage under the guidelines of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.
According to the Asbury Park Press at this past Monday night's Middletown Township Committee meeting (I'll post the video when it becomes available), the township administration announced that rather that provide health benefits to 25 part-time employees under the guidelines of the Affordable Care Act, they have instead cut the hours of those employees to avoid paying the extra premiums.
For the companies named above the additional costs of providing health care coverage to their employees equates as little as 10 cents or less per menu item, to their bottom line. Those costs can easily be added onto a customer's bill with very little notice or trouble from the clientele, as a matter of fact, according to many polls conducted in the past year, customers would be more than happy to pay the few cents more added on to their bill knowing that the additional costs were going to provided health coverage to those that prepare and serve their meals.
In the case of Middletown, providing health care coverage to those 25 part-timers, who live in Middletown and just might be some of our friends and neighbors, would equate to little more than $6 per tax paying township property owner per year. To some of you out there that may sound outrageous but keep in mind, these people are our hardworking friends and neighbors who just might need those extra few hours of pay each week to make ends meet at the end of the month.
Middletown's reasoning for not wanting to provide health coverage to its part-time help is somewhat understandable if you believe that the cost of providing coverage to those employees is indeed $31,000 per individual or family as the township states. That's outrageous! How can it be so much? It doesn't make sense.
I know how much it cost my employer to provide me with an HMO family plan through Cigna Health Care and it is nowhere near $31,000 a year. I think it's about time Middletown starts fessing up as to what real costs are available to them and not try to make excuses.
Whenever the cost of township health insurance premiums are brought up at a public meeting or in the media those on the dais and the administration point to the fact that Middletown is self-insured and as a result of being self-insured, the overall costs of health care coverage is less as compared to enrolling current and retired employees in the state's various coverage plans. It's obvious to me and many others that this just isn't so.
I've stated it before and I'll state it again, there has been a great many current and former Middletown employees who have told me in the past that they are/were afraid to speak out against their employer (the Township) because Middletown was self-insured. It seemed to them that whenever they would complain to much or too loudly about different work related conditions or insurance benefits, they would notice a slowdown in how their claims or benefits were processed or distributed.
Of course they and I know that that sort of behavior by an employer is illegal. You can't intimidate or knowingly go out of your way to harass a current or former employee because you are unhappy with them. However those that have talked to me about it feel just that, and believe the only reason why the township is still self-insured is so that Middletown controlled them and demand their loyalty and silence