I was stunned to hear about Commissioner Todd Johnson’s surprise attack on another commissioner by proposing to do away with her family’s health insurance coverage.
The issue isn’t about whether commissioners should or should not have access to the county health plan. The issue is whether it is fair (or legal) to change the rules in the middle of the game.
The policy to allow commissioners to participate in the health plan has been in place for more than 25 years. Elected officials make decisions for their families based on such policies.
Johnson is in the insurance business. He should know better than most how expensive private health insurance is and how difficult it is to obtain. I’ve been an insurance agent for almost 30 years, so I have no problem visualizing the following strictly hypothetical scenario:
Just think for a moment how you as a reader would feel if you received a letter announcing you were being removed from employer group health coverage at the end of the month. Compounding the worry, your doctor just told you the symptoms you’ve been experiencing have been diagnosed as a major health issue that requires surgery and ongoing treatment.
Real people experience situations similar to this all too often. They are the major reason we are witnessing such a heated debate about health-care reform in our country. To be stricken with a major illness while uninsured would result in financial ruin for the average person.
Attempting to use one’s power to potentially destroy someone’s family is not only reprehensible, but it brings into question just what is going on in Johnson’s head and heart. Also, how can Commissioners Jerry Simpson and Jonathan Thomas, along with others, think it’s a good idea to target another commissioner in this way? Even if COBRA continuation coverage is available, I can see no justification for putting a colleague through such an ordeal, regardless of any hostility some commissioners might harbor toward others.
My understanding is that benefits in place at the time of election cannot and should not be taken from an elected official during their term, unless it is voluntary.
The current commissioner majority ran on a platform of lowering taxes and fiscal responsibility. It sounds good and many candidates have gotten elected making those kinds of promises, but why have so few been able to deliver? Historically, we see that great leaders have inspired confidence from citizens because they possessed the character, integrity and commitment to stand for what is right and just for all the people they represent.
The action proposed by Johnson is far from a credible attempt to cut costs or put forward an example of fiscally responsible government. During his campaign, Johnson said: “I’m a Christian… I believe that less government is the best government, that taxes should be low, family values matter…” Are these actions of Johnson and other commissioners consistent with Christian family values? Elected officials, at all levels, must learn to let go of their animosity and pride and turn to God, embracing the biblical principles our founding fathers spoke so passionately about. If they will not, I fear our nation will soon be lost.