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Ogdensburg’s 2013 health care budget likely to be surpassed.


OGDENSBURG — Ogdensburg’s 2013 health care budget likely will exceed its $2,650,267 projection as the city enters its final fiscal quarter.

As of Sept. 30, the city had been billed for $2,047,523 in employee health care expenses and there is $604,865 left in the budget.

“If I were a betting man, I’d say yes,” said City Comptroller Philip A. Cosmo. “We’re hoping that it won’t be a lot.”

The city is self-insured in providing health care coverage for its 516 current and retired employees and their dependents.

The health care budgets in recent years have surpassed their projections. In 2012, the total bill was $2,652,387.51. That was $152,320 more than the $2,500,068 that was budgeted.

In 2011, the city’s total bill for health care was $2,325,766.80, which was $75,606 more than the budget of $2,250,161.

Mr. Cosmo declined to reveal how much the city’s 2014 budget will allocate for health care, although he agrees that the city’s costs are likely to keep rising, just as they are nationally.

Efforts to stem the increases, meanwhile, continue. Mr. Cosmo, City Manager John M. Pinkerton and other city employees have been meeting to try to come up with ways to cut health insurance costs for city workers.

Mr. Cosmo said Monday that the city group is still gathering background information on the issue and much of that is tied to President Barack Obama’s controversial Affordable Care Act and its impact on the city as a health care provider.

“It’ll all come down to what can we afford,” Mr. Cosmo said.

In July, the city paid an ACA-ordered fee of $516 — a dollar per person covered — for the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute that studies health care trends. The annual fee will double next year.

Coming up next year will be a $5.25-per-person reinsurance contribution fee, which is expected to cost the city about $30,000.

Mr. Cosmo said he isn’t exactly sure what the ACA programs are.

“Whatever they want to call it, it’s still a tax,” Mr. Cosmo said.

Besides Mr. Pinkerton and Mr. Cosmo, the other members of the committee are Coralee Barrett, Mr. Pinkerton’s secretary; Assistant Fire Chief Ronald D. Bouchard; police Detective Sgt. Robert H. Wescott; police Patrolman Mark T. Kearns; Patrick McCarthy of the Public Works Department; Matt R. Denner of the Parks and Recreation Department, and Julie Frazier-Gebo of the Ogdensburg Public Library and Frederic Remington Art Museum.

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