Columbus City Council debates healthcare

Columbus City Council debates healthcare

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - The debate over health care costs for Columbus city employees rages on despite the deal being hashed out in the 2015 budget approval process.

City leaders are now considering a plan to make "working spouses" eligible for medical coverage. But the price tag is sparking concerns for employees and retirees.

Michael Burgess heads up General Government Employee Association of Columbus or GGEAC, a relatively new organization formed in December of 2013.  Burgess said the group acts as a mouthpiece and the ears of general government with city workers expressing their concerns to them and GGGEAC brings them before council.

"It's almost $500 a month to have your spouse back on the plan," explained Burgess.

That's with a surcharge of $371 plus premiums.

"The benefits coordinator was asked to access for 306 spouses who were on our plan that had health care available to them through their employer and were paying that $50 surcharge what their actual cost of care was."

The total healthcare cost came to $1.8 million, which was divided by the 306 spouses to come up with the $371 surcharge, according to Burgess.

Burgess added the position of GGEAC at this time is to go with what council originally decided on in the budget process. "If they have insurance provided to them...they should take it."

President of the Fraternal Order of Police Major Randy Robertson with the Muscogee County Sheriff's Office told us how he feels about the ongoing issue.

"I think it has gotten so discombobulated in the city's reckless attempts at trying to repair something and hurry up and fix it, they've pretty much left the city employees behind," stated Robertson.

Robertson voicing his concerns to city council on Tuesday, said in some cases, the changes account for an 80 percent increase in premiums and a 300 percent increase in out-of-pocket expenses for some employees.

Mayor Tomlinson also stated they're actually working to improve health care plan costs across the board including surcharges.

New road construction projects were also discussed during Tuesday's meeting including a new roundabout at Lawyer's Lane, Baldwin Street and Buena Vista Road, a Counter-flow Bike Lane on the Dillingham Street Bridge, which traffic flows in the opposite direction and a new North Overpass over Railroad project.

The road projects are still pending council's approval. They are expecting a vote in two weeks.

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