Health Care Costs at Center of Police Protest

Health Care Costs at Center of Police Protest
By: Ryan Tate
Mt. Vernon, IL - Mt. Vernon Police Officers are not happy with their new health insurance plan, but the problems in the Jefferson County town are a microcosm of what other Heartland cities and towns are going through.
"We're up to $1.6 million a year for health insurance," Mt. Vernon City Manager Roy Payne said. Payne says city leaders went "shopping" for the best health care price recently; of the 13 companies they surveyed, only six quoted them an estimate. The $1.6 million is the cheapest they found. Payne says health care costs in Mt. Vernon went up 38 percent over the last three years. So now, the city is asking its municipal workers to pay a $25 a month towards the employee premium costs.
"I don't see how municipalities can make it in the future without increasing taxes. There has to be some balance to keep spending and costs in line and ask taxpayers what they will pay for," Payne said.
Three of the six Mt. Vernon unions have accepted the city's plan. Three will go to arbitration next week.
City police officers and their families held an informational picket outside the city council meeting Monday evening. They are against the city's plan, and hope both sides can iron-out their differences.