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Wayne Independent - Honesdale, PA
  • Good effort by borough shot down

  • On Thursday night, the Honesdale Borough council voted down a proposal to change the health insurance program offered to its employees.
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  • On Thursday night, the Honesdale Borough council voted down a proposal to change the health insurance program offered to its employees.
    This plan was crafted by Scott Smith, chairman of the borough's finance committee.
    When the plan was announced last week, it was learned the Honesdale Police Officers Association was not happy.
    In fact, a letter came from a high-powered law firm in Harrisburg as well as a high-powered law firm in Philadelphia. Both letters indicated if the borough council made the change, a grievance would be forthcoming.
    At issue was whether the borough was significantly changing the health insurance plan.
    Smith said he didn't think the plan was changing substantially and that it did not violate the terms of the current collective bargaining agreement.
    Others on the council were hesitant, saying they thought it could wait another year because the contract expires at the end of 2013 and maybe this could be used as a bargaining chip.
    In the end, the council voted 4-3 not to change the plan. It was an interesting dynamic at play.
    We applaud Smith for coming forward and trying to save money for the borough's taxpayers. His idea would have saved close to $50,000 for the borough.
    As Smith pointed out, the borough was willing to pick up all costs which would have been higher than the current plan.
    The one mistake Smith probably made was not bringing in all of the council members on his plan. Some were surprised to hear about it at the meeting earlier this week. If all would have known, things might have been different.
    One of the most revealing facts which came out about the current plan is the fact it has a $150 deductible up to three people. That means for a family, the most deductible they will ever pay is $450.
    Page 2 of 3 - For the average working folks, that's astounding.
    Most people who are lucky enough to have insurance have enormous deductibles. Some as high as $5,000 or even more.
    The average working stiff can't relate to having a $150 deductible.
    The police union may technically be right when it comes to changing the contract. However, you would think they would be flexible when it comes to this issue.
    Do they not understand how much it costs the taxpayers to get insurance? Or how many taxpayers don't even have insurance because it is simply unaffordable?
    Most people would gladly take a $150 insurance deductible. It would save them thousands of dollars a year. In fact, it could even save lives because some people don't go to the doctor because of high deductibles.
    Another aspect of this is the people who work for the borough who aren't police officers.
    They didn't seem to be protesting about the change but the union ended up dictating what was going to happen.
    That is patently unfair.
    The best thing which can happen now is for the borough council to get as tough as nails when it comes to the next contract negotiations.
    No longer do very many people get fully paid insurance with a very low deductible.
    Maybe the time has come for that to change.
    But maybe that change should be directed only at the police union. Maybe the borough can find a way to demand they have one type of insurance and then give the other hard working employees of the borough a better plan.
    That would seem fitting given what has taken place with the issue.
    Page 3 of 3 - The people are hurting and those who work in public service have to start waking up and realizing what the real world is all about.
    Everyone has been taking a hit when it comes to insurance. Well, nearly everyone.
    Now it's time for all to be treated equally.

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