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Candidate: Cut Health Benefits for Librarians, Garbage Collectors

matt mayorChapel Hill mayoral candidate Matt Czajkowski may not say so on his campaign website [1], but several stories – most recently in the News and Observer [2] – have made clear that one of his priorities if elected would be to significantly cut health insurance benefits for town employees in order to lower taxes.

Given that Chapel Hill probably leads North Carolina in people per capita calling Congress to urge expansion of affordable health coverage in the current national health debate, Czajkowski’s strategy is puzzling. He did vote against extending lifetime [3]health insurance benefits (a decision later reversed) to former town council members last year, but why go after town employees now?

I wonder if candidate Czajkowski can look the guys in the face who come by and pick up his trash every week and tell them he needs to cut their health benefits in wealthy Chapel Hill. How about the town librarians – perhaps he could gather them around to explain why it’s so necessary to chop their health benefits (but only after they check out his books for him). Maybe he’ll stop next time he’s at one of Chapel Hill’s many parks and tell the men and women spreading mulch, planting trees and fixing the playground equipment why their health benefits need to be cut so his taxes can be lowered.

It’s amazing someone could take a position like this given what we’ve all learned over the last few months about the horrible problems people who don’t have adequate health insurance face in our country. However, it really shouldn’t be that surprising. Many people – including many in Congress – are profoundly disconnected from the realities of our health insurance mess. Czajkowski just joins the long line of well-insured, comfortable (he’s retired at 60 years old), politicians who have no idea what people like Alex, who related her story below, have to go through every day in our system.