Alcona still working on insurance requirements

HARRISVILLE – Despite a meeting with their insurance company, the Alcona County Board of Commissioners continued its effort Wednesday to work through new health insurance requirements. The full program is scheduled to go into effect early next year.

Board Chair Kevin Boyat said he and others met with Cadillac Insurance Company Tuesday to get clarification on the new requirements being mandated at the state level. The issue relates to the passage of national health care insurance act, which states that patients cannot be turned down for coverage, because of prior illness.

But Boyat said there are still many questions to resolve. For example, if an employee works too many hours, the county has to pay a $2,000 fine for that person as well as everyone else on the county staff, not just the one, he said.

“The insurance company still doesn’t know about all the rules and regulations yet,” he said.

Still, the board decided to move ahead and selected June 1 to Oct. 31 as a sample measurement period. It will track the number of full- and part-time employees on staff, and the hours they work.

The multi-part motion written by County Clerk Patricia Truman was passed unanimously by the board.

Commissioner Bill Thompson said there could be problems, though, with the sampling. Some crews do not have routine hours, such as an emergency medical technician. At the end of his regular shift, he might have to be called out on an emergency.

Sheriff Douglas Atchison has two part-time employees who work seven days a week at the jail. Those positions could be merged into one full time and one part-time spot, he said. However, he and others said it is difficult to get part-time help in Alcona, because candidates can get higher pay elsewhere.

The commissioners also worked through issues regarding Homeland Security funds that oversee on behalf of other counties as fidicuary agent.

Tim London, who is administrator for the grant, said $362,000 could be available from the 2010 Homeland Security grant program. But he and Commissioner Carolyn Brummund said this amount was a moving target.

The issue is complicated because of a lack of official response from Bay County and looming deadlines.

“Some counties haven’t submitted anything yet,” London said.

Others are requesting tiny amounts.

“Some are putting in $97 projects, which take as much time as $10,000 projects,” he said, referring to the amount of documentation that is required.

“The deadline for submitting requests is way past,” London said. “I’m quite honestly concerned we aren’t going to be able to do anything about it.”

Grant funds that are not tapped revert back to the government.

In other business:

  • the commissioners approved payment of $389,630.01 in bills for expenses May 1 to May 15.
  • Harrisville resident Patty Thomas talked about a meeting on horizontal fracking she attended in Troy earlier this month. Thomas asked Thompson how he was progressing on getting experts pro and con to speak to the commissioners about the issue. Thompson said, “It’s moving, but very slowly.”

Thomas said she believes fracking in the state will harm Michigan waters and put emergency responders at risk in the event of a spill, because of the amount of water used and the unknown chemicals in the fracking fluid.

  • the county has hired five new employees. They are: Tani Briggs as part-time custodian, and Scott MacNeill and Brock Lavergne as summertime marine officers on portions of Lake Huron and other lakes within the county. Kerry Scott will work part-time in the Harrisville office of the MSU Extension, and Lori Achtabowski has been hired as a full-time payroll assistant.

Betsy Lehndorff can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5693. Follow Betsy on Twitter @bl_alpenanews.