Rising healthcare costs are just one piece of what’s really going on in this country right now

December 21 – A healthcare discussion came up at the Waynesboro Borough Council meeting last night and it has spawned a deeper look into where this country could be headed. 

Last night, the Waynesboro Borough council noted there has been a 16 percent increase in healthcare costs in the borough. 

Pat Ryan of NewsTalk 103.7FM attended the meeting and explained, “I asked the Borough Manager Stains after that what’s the contribution coming from the people that are employees of the borough? That was kind of a dicey answer. Some of them got grandfathered in, so all of their health care costs are paid for. I don’t know what the participation rate is. I’m going to fill out a Right to Know. I’d like to know what the percentages are. I don’t need the names. I just want to know how much are the folks in Waynesboro forking over on top of the stress that I already have? I don’t live in the borough Waynesboro, but I’ve already got my own health care costs problems, but then I’ve got to take on your health care cost problems as well? There should be skin in the game.”

Attorney Clint Barkdoll said, “These municipal benefit packages, it is difficult to say it’s one size fits all because remember, a number of those employees are unionized, the uniform employees are unionized. So they have a collective bargaining agreement that prescribes how their insurance works, and what their contributions are. Then you’ve got the non uniform, non unionized employees and they’re under a different plan. I don’t know all the details on this, but there are likely some older employees that might be under old plans that are grandfathered in, that they’re not contributing. Other newer hires are contributing.”

In local school districts, teachers contribute anywhere from six to nine percent of their monthly premium costs. 

Barkdoll said, “Of course, each time the contract gets renewed the district tries to up that percentage a little bit. Bigger picture, these health insurance premiums are up across the board. Just my little office through Highmark, 12% increase this year, so I’m not at all surprised to hear 16%. I think you’re seeing wide all over the place, at least 10%. Some cases even more depending on what they call the census, the demographics of their group and claim history. It is a budget buster, whether you’re in the public or the private sector. It is an incredible cost every year and it just keeps going up.”

Ryan said, “I’ve also heard terrible stories of long waiting lines. We’re starting to turn into freaking Canada here. It’s this Obama disaster that is finally coming to roost.” 

Michele Jansen of NewsTalk 103.7FM noted, “Because it got rid of any kind of rationing of health care in a sane way. People don’t understand. I’m not trying to say there weren’t problems.”

“I agree with you,” Ryan said. “There were problems.”

Jansen continued, “It’s the rationing part that’s killing us right now because you have so many of the people on the lowest end who don’t – and I’m not trying to denigrate anybody. I’m just stating the reality. They don’t pay taxes. They don’t make enough to pay taxes and they’re on the kind of medical care that people could have only dreamed of years ago of getting. They can go in as much as they want, get as much care as they want. Because there’s no skin in the game, there’s no self rationing of health care. You ask doctors who kind of abuses the system, like coming in for colds and kind of ridiculous things more than anything else? It’s people on Medicaid and people on government health care. That is the two groups. That’s the problem. You can’t take away any kind of rationing of your welfare system at all or the health care at all and expect the costs not to explode. Of course, they’re going to explode. But the thing that bothers me about this, even if they’re paying three to nine percent, and this is not the people’s fault, this is the whole system’s fault of the way it’s done. Or like some of our legislators who pay nothing. They’re not feeling the pain of these policies, so they don’t know what the rest of us are talking about when we’re saying how terrible these policies are. You can’t have an electorate that doesn’t understand the impact of the policies.”

Barkdoll said, “By and large municipal government employees, they are getting provided medical benefits at a very low cost. Now, we should say, those employees are still paying deductibles. They’re paying co-pays, all of these sorts of things. But taking us back to the Obamacare issue, I don’t see it getting repealed. I always bring up the point, look at all of these candidates for Congress that ran on those platforms in 2016. Just wait ‘til we get in there. The first thing we do is to repeal Obamacare. Well, they did. They won, and they had control of the House and the Senate and the White House for two full years. They didn’t do a thing about this issue. That’s why when I hear these candidates now say hey, make sure I get back in there. I’m really going to address this. No, they’re not going to address anything with this. The problem is it’s become a huge welfare program and it’s very popular in some very red states too. That’s why there’s just no appetite in Washington to do anything about it.”

Ryan pointed out, “It’s these policies. So here we are left holding the bag. So I’ve got a less than favorable health care and then I’ve got to pay for other people’s health care and then it keeps rising and keeps rising. Back in the oldie old days, it was just $100 every couple of paychecks and it was decent. So now it’s not so decent and then they get the cost lopped onto them and they’ve done the deals with these employees and I don’t fault the employees. It’s not going to get repealed. Nobody has the appetite for it. But these elections have consequences. It’s just so frustrating to see that in front of my very eyes. I’d love to do a deeper dig at some point. Here’s all the money and all the policies and all the things that you’re facing now because of the people that you put in office.”

Demand is also higher for food banks. 

A recent report showed that Americans last year gave the lowest percentage of their disposable incomes to charity in nearly three decades.

Ryan insisted, “Joe Biden’s America.”

Barkdoll said, “I’m hearing that locally here as well. Just incredible demand for food banks and other products that these food banks supply to people and that’s happening all over the country right now. So, again, you put that in with some of these other things we’re discussing, people at a lot of different levels are really feeling the pressure of inflation and other things going on in this economy right now.”

Ryan said, “But yet you’ll continue to put or you’ll think about putting more Democrats in and more of their policies that trickle down right to you and your family and your kids and your grandkids.”

Jansen said, “I’m going to put another layer on that. It was supposed to be the Democrats who are supposed to unify us and oh, Trump was so divisive. It drives me crazy. We just had this Colorado decision and the reason I’m bringing it back up again is because we’ve had media response and the president’s response and other Democrats that I find so incredibly irresponsible. We are really pushing our country towards it exploding no matter who wins the 2024 election because of that Colorado decision, those four unelected judges with three saying no, we really shouldn’t do this. How is this not getting called out by intellectually honest people on both sides? The president could have been a hero if he just would have come out and said, this is not a constitutionally responsible decision, or even just let the courts decide it, making no comment whether they were right or wrong or not. Because he went on to say, oh, there’s no question that the former president supported an insurrection on January 6. First of all, January 6, is not defined legally as an insurrection. Number two, the president hasn’t been convicted or even charged. They’re not even charging him with that and yet we have four judges that are saying, oh, he won’t be on the ballot because he’s not right to be in office because of his participation in an insurrection. So irresponsible and then I hear Republicans say, oh, it’s fine, because he’s going to go to the Supreme Court and they’ll overturn it. Yeah, they probably will. But unless that’s a 9-0 decision, it’s just going to be well, the Supreme Court illegitimately let this guy run. If he wins, he will not be accepted as the winner of the presidency. Or if Donald Trump doesn’t win, they’re going to say, well, it’s the courts, they illegitimately took away his chance to win. Either side of the country is going to believe it’s going to be a legitimate election, I’m afraid.”

Barkdoll added, “This is starting to feel like 2000 all over again. That fall, we’re getting late into the year in 2000 and remember, our US Supreme Court, 5-4, one vote essentially installed George Bush and Dick Cheney into the White House. They shut down the counting of those Florida ballots. That still creates a lot of heartburn for people and there was a lot of the country that said this was illegitimate. The Supreme Court never should have done that. The big difference in 2000 was you’ll remember Al Gore came out very diplomatically in that press conference and he conceded the election. He encouraged the country to come together. He did not say it was fixed. He’d said he wasn’t going to fight it anymore. I don’t think we’re going to see that repeat in the coming months. So whatever the Supreme Court does, to your point, I think you’re going to see a big part of the electorate come out and continue to say this is not legitimate. Because I see no scenario where either President Biden or Donald Trump are going to do that Al Gore moment where they come out and do a press conference and say, hey, accept the decision. Let’s all get together. They are both going to keep making comments to keep this fight and the division going. What really concerns me is in light of this Colorado case, you’re already seeing reports now, California is apparently examining options to keep Trump off the ballot. You now have some states saying we want to get Biden off the ballot. That’s why when I said yesterday, this is such a slippery slope. You can’t have the states piecemeal taking people off the ballot because they disagree with them politically. By the way, some of Trump’s biggest critics came out criticizing this Colorado decision yesterday. You saw Bill Barr and Chris Christie making the points that these are decisions that should be up to voters, not unelected judges to decide who gets on the ballot.”