In the fall of 2013, I began working to make sure the lowest income employees of Montgomery County’s contractors had access to affordable health insurance. In 2014, I introduced Bill 14-14, requiring County contractors to provide affordable health insurance to
Through the legislative process, the bill was amended (and passed in April 2015) to make some very important changes to help these employees obtain health insurance. First, the new law requires County contractors to allow Health and Human Services (HHS) employees to help their employees sign up for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) during work hours. The Council added $30,000 to the budget this year for HHS staff that will focus on this target population. Next, Bill 14-14 requires all County contractors to submit payroll reports that include information on how many of their employees have health insurance and the premium split. This information will allow the County to better understand the universe of uninsured employees of County contractors so we can provide help to get them covered. Finally, the new law strengthens the Living Wage Law by requiring the County to keep these payroll/health insurance records on file for at least three years. This provision will enable employees to challenge employers in court if they believe they were paid less than the Living Wage. The Council added about $100,000 to the budget to enforce this section of the law.
While Bill 14-14 was a good first step, the work of making sure employees of County contractors have access to affordable health insurance is not over. That’s why I introduced Bill 5-15, which creates an incentive for businesses to provide insurance to their employees that seek to do business with the County. The bill creates a preference (to be determined for each contract) for businesses that offer health insurance to their employees. Today, the Council approved Bill 5-15 by a vote of 7-1.
I want to thank my colleagues for their support of these initiatives over the past two years. Bill 14-14 and Bill 5-15 will ensure more of our lowest-paid workers have access to affordable health insurance.