Look, as a longtime healthcare advocate, I'm for expanding health coverage with innovative solutions. I've suggested many ways government can act and make it possible for ordinary people to have a choice of decent, affordable health plans. However, it seems the only action by government in North Carolina recently is for elected government officials – even elected part-time officials – to give themselves generous healthcare benefits – even after they leave government service.
I'm just blown away by the insensitivity, the irony, the misplaced priorities and the injustice of this sort of action. Last night the Chapel Hill Town Council voted to give its members the ability to stay on the town healthcare plan – subsidized to the tune of 75% of the premium – if they serve two terms on Chapel Hill's part-time town council. These are the same retiree health benefits that full-time town employees have to work 15 or 20 years to qualify for. How about the guys who work harder than just about anyone picking up household trash and hanging on the back of a town garbage truck in 100 degree heat? I'd say they deserve that sort of health plan after twenty years of work. Heck, I'd say they deserve a lot more than that. But for someone who did a couple of terms on the Town Council? Give me a break.
The icing on the cake is that Chapel Hill Town Council members just approved an 11 percent jump in the town tax rate.
I guess the Council figures they are just following in the footsteps of stalwarts like the Town of Cary who last year voted similar benefits for its members. That still doesn't make it right and my prediction is this action will come back to bite the Council in a big way. There are plenty of uninsured folks in, yes, wealthy Chapel Hill who are paying taxes and would love some help affording coverage. There are plenty of people paying through the nose for the only expensive coverage they can find who would love to join the town plan.
The Chapel Hill Town Council can't solve the state's health insurance crisis on its own. As a Chapel Hill resident, I'm fully aware of the limits of Council action. However, they can avoid contributing to the problem by declaring to the public, once again, that "some are more equal than others."