There have been numerous articles written on Virginia’s reducing of its employees’ working hours in order to avoid having to pay benefits – here is a recent one. I saw a couple of job postings on the VSCPA’s website for accounting teaching positions at UVa. In each case, the university wanted PhDs, but were offering no benefits.
So if our legislature is considered part time, how come they get to participate in the state’s health plan?
Of the General Assembly’s 139 members – one seat is vacant – 104 were enrolled in state health plans as of Feb. 10, as were 202 of their dependents, according to state Department of Human Resource Management data.
Nearly 75% of the GA participates. The article gives an example of the value of this benefit:
For instance, on the state’s basic COVA Care plan, a covered employee pays $72 in pre-tax dollars of the $574 monthly premium, with the state picking up the rest.
When a covered employee adds his or her family to the plan, the out-of-pocket premium is $220, with the state paying the remaining $1,321 of the $1,541 premium.
No wonder, then, that the overall compensation package for our legislators is “in line with the $35,326 national average in other comparable states.”
They deny coverage to other part time employees but most of them take it for themselves. That takes unbelievable gall.
But wait! There’s more!
Many of these same legislators have voted against the expansion of Medicaid. Not only do they take benefits denied to other part time workers, but they want to deny health benefits to those who have none at all. And who are these people? Most are the working poor.
There are two names on the “yes, I’m grabbing a benefit for myself that other part-time state employees can’t have” but “no, we can’t expand Medicaid for poor people” list that require a calling out. The first is one I consider a friend – Del. Johnny Joannou of Portsmouth.
You, Delegate, have coverage for yourself and your wife. Using the numbers above, the state is picking up nearly $16,000 a year for that coverage, almost as much as you are making in salary as a part-time legislator. I know you are a small business man. Having been one myself for 26 years, I know how costly health insurance can be. I also understand that you are trying to be fiscally responsible here – not wanting to take on an expansion that might come back to bite us later. Why can’t we cross that bridge when it happens? Why are you, a hardworking legislator, not willing to do as much as we can for the least among us?
Tell the truth, Delegate – you probably couldn’t afford to pay to have the same coverage for health insurance as you enjoy from the state. I know I couldn’t. Before I became a state employee – full time, I might add – I was spending more than $400 a month for what amounted to catastrophic coverage, for just me. Are you willing to give up your coverage – particularly the share the state pays for you and your wife? If not, then why are you voting to deny coverage to those who otherwise can’t afford it?
The other name on the list is Sen. Jeff McWaters. Honestly, Senator, I was surprised to see that you are on the state’s health plan. After all, you made the list of the wealthiest members of the legislature. And we know how you made your money. But what happened to this McWaters?
McWaters, whose former company specializes in managing care for Medicaid recipients, said all Americans should have health insurance.
“Health care is a right in America,” he said. “We don’t let sick people lie on the street and die.”
McWaters said requiring health insurance would be cheaper than taxpayers’ footing the bill for uninsured people who use emergency rooms for routine health care needs.
I have to say it just sickens me, Senator, that you would deny poor folks health care coverage while not only having gotten rich from it, but continuing to benefit from the largesse of the state.
There’s no excuse for feeding at the trough of public benefits while denying those same benefits to others. To all of those who are, you are the epitome of hubris. Get out of that white house on the hill and do the job you’re supposed to do: put the best interests of the people of Virginia first.
Updated 12:45pm same day for miscellaneous errors.