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

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Ogdensburg’s 2013 health care budget will likely exceed its $2,650,267 projection as the city enters its fourth and final three-month 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 an increase of $152,320 over the $2,500,068 that was budgeted.

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

Mr. Cosmo declined to say how much the city’s 2014 bud

budget will allocate for health care although he agrees again that costs, as they are nationally, are likely to keep rising.

Efforts to stem the increases, meanwhile, continue. Since last spring, Mr. Cosmo, City Manager John M. Pinkerton and other city employees have been meeting to try and 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 Obama’s controversial Affordable Care Act - ACA - 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 in 2014 will be the $5.25 per person reinsurance contribution fee that will cost the city about $30,000.

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

Not that it really matters.

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

In addition to the 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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