Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Council's Health Care Benefit is Not Good; the Health Care Market is Worse

Enclave Totally lost in the question of whether or not Metro taxpayers should be paying for health insurance for present and former council members is the more important question of why medical, pharmaceutical, and insurance costs have been allowed to skyrocket pushing up the cost of coverage in the first place. The medical industry is a glaring demonstration that the pretense of trickle down economics does not work.Good health care only goes to those who have the most money. And former council members like Adam Dread, who seems to want to make the rest of us feel sorry for the reality that he would have to pay what every modest income family does, are well connected to seats of power and can leverage better health care than constituents. Dread wrote a letter lobbying to keep his health benefits, and he had enough political capital from his days merry-making on the Metro Council to get 33 sponsors out of 40 total members to seal passage (WITH Mayor Karl Dean signing to approve last February): Charlie Tygard Rip Ryman Tim Garrett Erica Gilmore Megan Barry Eric Crafton Michael Craddock Sam Coleman Buddy Baker Vivian Wilhoite Randy Foster Greg Adkins Jerry Maynard Erik Cole Karen Bennett Phil Claiborne Sean McGuire Sandra Moore Frank Harrison Lonnell Matthews Pam Murray Jim Hodge Jim Gotto Darren Jernigan Keith Durbin Carl Burch Robert Duvall Edith Taylor Langster Duane Dominy Carter Todd Walter Hunt Bo Mitchell Jason HollemanWhile these members did vote basically to give the very same health care to Council Members as is given to all full time Metro employees, the larger question is whether they are using their leadership positions working with organizations trying to leverage reforms in health care so that their own constituents can receive the kind of coverage currently reserved for Adam Dread. If they worked to encourage tight regulation of the industry, they would not have to encumber taxpayers as much to benefit themselves.Moreover, other part-time employees are just as worthy of the benefit as they are. Metro should cover school crossing guards, who work 25 hours a week in all kinds weather protecting our children, but they are only going to do so if concerted efforts are made to motivate sweeping changes to our health care system, which shouldn't be only available to the council members.And while the media may continue to ignore the executive role that Mayor Karl Dean plays in signing and not vetoing these bills, I'm not going to do likewise. The Mayor is just as reponsible as is the Council for any obligations the taxpayers have as a result of extending coverage.

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