EVANSVILLE, INDIANA — A city’s budget is made up of many parts, things like public safety, transportation and the sewer system. One of the hottest issues in this year’s budget talks in Evansville is a change to city employees’ health insurance plans.
“It was a sticker shock. It was all dropped on us at the same time. It was something that was decided,” Councilmember Jonathan Weaver, D.-At large, said. “It’s very easy to sympathize with people.”
The proposed change will have health care premiums for employees on the city’s payroll stay the same, but deductibles would go up from $750 to $5,000 – all in the name of balancing the budget.
“On paper, to save $3.5 million is a really good idea,” Weaver said. “It looks good and it looks like we’re saving money. But when you delve into it a little deeper, this is where we got the feedback, the pushback from the employees.”
Weaver is one of the councilmembers who will be voting on the budget proposal Monday evening. It’s a decision that he said is a difficult one to make.
“I don’t know. I’m just as disappointed as everyone else,” Weaver said. “It’s just like, ‘What can you do?'”
Weaver said the council is looking at other ways to alleviate the increase in deductibles.
“We’re going to cut back on the not-for-profits, and that’s another thing to think about – why are we forcing taxpayers to donate to a charity not of their choice,” he said.
While he understands no one enjoys having to pay more, Weaver said it is a reality, pointing the finger at national legislation.
“The Affordable Care Act is bad for Indiana,” he said. “It’s bad for everybody and here is just an example of how we are getting screwed.”
Weaver said the council is still working out certain kinks in the budget proposal. He said there is also a proposed plan that would involve lower deductibles, but employees would have to pay higher premiums up front.