Public spending cut backs in one United State’s county has been attacked as being mean spirited. It seems Collins County in Texas has approved a $90 million spending cut on health insurance, but at the expense of 30 retired workers. What’s more the Commissioners who cut the budget did so without giving any of the retirees any notice.
This, opponents argue this leaves the local government organisation open to legal challenges.
The approval was a 3 to 2 majority vote, but one of the dissenters, Commissioner Joe Jaynes told local reporters: “It was unfortunate the way it was handled. Whether the county should provide the benefit to retirees is a fair question, but just yanking it from them with no notice whatsoever is very unfortunate.”
He added: “Some of those folks are in their 70s and facing health issues and now they are being told they have to find another provider. It’s not a reasonable, prudent thing to do.”
Health care reform in the USA is a topic that is likely to run and run, especially amongst local government which provides or subsidises health insurance for its employees and former employees.
The other dissenter on the Commission, Duncan Webb echoed his colleague’s words saying: “I opposed taking away the benefit for the retirees that were already receiving them. I was not opposed to prospectively eliminating it.”
He continued: “I was still interested in getting rid of long term liability, but I wasn’t in favour of taking it from retirees who were already receiving it – that’s why I voted against it.”
Defending the measure however Commissioner Matt Shaheen said: “We just made [the county’s participation] zero, the plan is still there but the county isn’t going to pay for it. We gave the people who have retired and signed up a couple of months to make plans for the change we just made today.”
It seems this is one decision that is likely to go to court.