Towns and State must find solution to care

Rising healthcare costs have affected nearly all of us over recent years. If it’s not the cost of insurance, it’s the increase in costs of medical services, or the increased usage of prescription medication.

Whatever the case, it is hitting many of us hard.

Major corporations have bemoaned the sharp increase in costs affiliated with rising insurance prices, small businesses with razor-thin profit margins are concerned over their abilities to meet costs and retain employees and individuals seeking their own healthcare are often faced with sticker shock when they first begin their quests.

And now, we are seeing it in some of our towns.

The Ocean View Town Council has less that two weeks (an April 8 deadline) to approve the Town’s budget, by state law. One big problem they are facing at this time, however, is determining a budget line item for an increase in employee health insurance premiums.

Town officials reportedly tried reaching out to the State to try to get their employees insurance through their system. However, Mayor Gordon Wood said the State currently has a moratorium on allowing new municipalities to get in on their plan.

The main draw for joining the State’s plan, according to Wood, is there would be less strain on the Town’s employees who have families.

“Right now the state program is big enough that their family plan is a family,” said Wood. “One kid, two kids, three kids — it doesn’t make a difference.”

Town officials have contacted state lawmakers Sen. Gerald Hocker and Rep. Ron Gray regarding the issue, and have lobbied the State hard to join, but to no avail. They have also tried contacting different department heads and supervisors in various State offices, but have not made any headway.

At this point, under the time restraints the Town is under, it might be time to move on and find something temporary for this year they can manage. However, without a long-term plan in place, they are in serious danger of losing employees to other agencies who can provide less-expensive care. And that benefits nobody.