Montgomery Council Approves Bill to Increase Access to Health Insurance for Employees of Contractors

Nancy with workers

ROCKVILLE, Md., April 14, 2015—The Montgomery County Council today approved amended Bill 14-14 that will require the County’s Department of Health and Human Services to assist employees of County contractors and subcontractors who do not have employer-sponsored health insurance to apply for insurance on the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange. The bill also will require contractors and subcontractors to permit employees to meet with HHS representatives for this purpose on company time.

The chief sponsor of the bill is Councilmember Nancy Navarro. The bill was co-sponsored by Councilmembers Roger Berliner, Marc Elrich, Nancy Floreen, Hans Riemer and former Councilmember Cherri Branson. The bill was approved today by a vote of 9-0.

The amended bill also will require contractors to report to the County’s Office of Procurement on the number of its employees who have health insurance. Procurement will be required to report to the Council and the County Executive on the number of County contractor and subcontractor employees without health insurance. Additionally, the bill strengthens the existing Living Wage Law by requiring the County to retain quarterly payroll reports submitted by contractors. The law would sunset after two years unless the Council decides to extend it.

“Employees of County contractors deserve access to affordable health insurance,” said Councilmember Navarro. “Bill 14-14 is an important step toward ensuring that the County Government assists low-income employees, such as sanitation workers, in obtaining health insurance and receiving federal subsidies for which they are eligible. This bill will allow the County to collect and retain data, for the first time, to better understand how many of these employees do not have access to health insurance.”

The provisions of Bill 14-14 apply to contractors who are covered under Bill 5-02—the Living Wage Law—that was enacted by the Council on June 11 2002. The Living Wage Law requires certain businesses that provide services (but not goods) to the County to pay employees working on a County contract a minimum living wage effective July 1, 2003. The current living wage has been adjusted to $14.15 per hour.

Bill 14-14 takes another step toward making sure employees of contractors are aware that they could be eligible for federal health insurance subsidies under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and will assist them in applying.

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