Ruben said he wanted to remind everybody that budget time would be
here before long. He emphasized that last year the county had 13
percent cuts to levies across the board and to most of the county
departments. He also pointed out that this year's budget began by
using a 7 percent reserve fund "to come to a zero balance budget for
If figures would remain the same, Ruben cautioned, the
next budget would have the same 20 percent -- the 13 percent cut and
the 7 percent reserve combined -- for next year.
During last week's board-of-whole meeting, an executive session
was called to hear from Jonathan Wright of the Logan County state's
attorney office concerning costs of pending court cases. Logan
County has some significantly large cases pending. Had the capital
punishment not been rolled back by Gov. Pat Quinn, some of these
cases would qualify for the capital litigation fund.
Ruben said that taking a median figure of the anticipated court
case costs that Wright presented, the budget would require another 7
The 7 percent reserve that is no longer there and the 7 percent
needed for court cases would create an additional 14 percent that
would need to be added to the 13 percent.
"So we would be 27 percent lower than where we were two years
ago," he said.
Projecting to budget time, that would mean a 27 percent cut from
levies and departments in next year's budget.
"That's a pretty bleak outlook," Ruben said. He added, "I just
want you all to realize that every dollar we don't spend this year
is one that we don't not have to budget for next year."
In one of the biggest annual costs for the county, the board
voted last month to stay with Health Alliance and continue to offer
county employees the POS-C plan. High claims resulted in a 12 percent
increase in that plan. As a result the county decided to split the
cost of the increase. The county would pay $415 and the employee $23
per month under the new insurance contract that begins May 1.
Employees would still have the option to take another plan, such
as the PPO-1000 higher deductible, with the county still paying $415
and the employee paying the difference.
Finance chairman Chuck Ruben said the insurance would cost the
county $89,000 more for this fiscal year.
This month, AFSCME Council 31 representative Christopher Hoosier
spoke to the board on behalf of Local 1277, which represents Logan
County Department of Public Health employees.
Hoosier said the average health department salary is under
$25,000 a year. Some of the employees there have been under optional
health insurance programs.
"Right now they are faced with unsustainable health care cost
increases," he said.
He began comparing old rates with new rates:
The PPO rate with a $1,000 per year deductible will increase from
$107 per month to $432 per month, creating a 305 percent cost
increase to employees. That is a change from $1,284 a year to $5,184
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Insurance coverage under the PPO plans for families would
increase to $1,703 a month. The premium with maximum out-of-pocket
deductibles could cost an employee up to $20,426 a year.
An employee and children could take a plan at $1,025 a month with
the possibility of out-of-pocket costs up to almost $24,800 a year.
Hoosier went over the PPO high-deductible plans, beginning with
the single employee. That premium would increase from $60 a month to
$352, with a maximum possible expense of $6,724 a year. Other family
plans reached as much as $23,000 in possible costs per year.
The POS-C, the plan that the county has been paying in full up to
this year, will go from $391 to $415. Employees will go from paying
zero to $23 a month, or $276 a year.
The plans all have certain internal costs -- services that go
toward the deductible, services that go toward the maximum
out-of-pocket costs -- and with the possible need to use an
out-of-network provider, the POS is the worst of them all, Hoosier
Some employees who began under a different plan now have ongoing
health issues that would not be covered under the POS-C plan. One of
the hardest hit, Ruth Freeman, said her rate went up almost 500
percent, and she must now pay an additional $352 per month.
Today, Nancy Schaub, insurance consultant for Roger Garrett
Insurance Agency, clarified that the insured employees may have to
go to a different physician but that they would be covered.
Calling the plan increases that are between 100 and 486 percent
"astronomical," Hoosier asked that the county not accept the
The union is now doing battle with the state over its proposed
change in health insurers. The state plans to drop Health Alliance
and Humana from its group health plan offerings. Both health
insurers have appealed to the state's Executive Ethics Commission.
Following the ethics decision, the General Assembly's bipartisan
Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability would need
to approve the change for the state.
According to a Council 31 representative, "The union will oppose
any change that would reduce employee access to care, unduly disrupt
doctor/patient relationships or increase employee health care