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State workers deserve their health coverage

You pay for their insurance | Dec. 1, story

State workers deserve coverage

As a state worker, I want to comment on the article about how taxpayers pay for my health insurance. Believe me, in these times, I know how lucky I am to have a job and health care coverage. But, as Gov. Charlie Crist and others point out in the article, I also believe that our health care coverage is compensation for serving the people of Florida at less pay than many of us could earn in the private sector, especially following four years without a raise.

I agree that all Floridians should receive the same benefits that I do, and I would be willing to pay increased taxes to assure that all citizens are adequately covered.

If the elected officials who make these decisions had to do without this coverage and had to walk in the shoes of the uninsured, they might make different decisions. But the thousands of dedicated state workers mentioned in the same breath don't make those decisions. Many of us would be the first in line to help others get the same coverage we have.

Don't mix apples and oranges, and don't forget whom Florida taxpayers rely on in times of difficulty and crisis. State workers do without in so many other areas, that we at least deserve this benefit — and so do all Floridians.

Wendy Loomas, St. Petersburg

You pay for their insurance | Dec. 1, story

This isn't fair to struggling Floridians

I was outraged by this article that we taxpayers are paying health care insurance premiums for state employees in the amount of $45 million annually, especially for the high-level bureaucrats, political appointees and their families.

Gov. Charlie Crist (whose salary is $132,932) finds this appropriate and feels it should be part of the compensation package for a public servant. The governor plans to add his wife and her two children to this freebie on us. It's no wonder why our high-level representatives aren't being more aggressive in fighting for affordable health care for their constituents when they don't have to pay a dime, as well as having family coverage to boot!

It is also an outrage that those state employees who do have to pay for their health care premiums pay only $600 a year for individual plans and $2,160 for family while the average working Floridian pays $1,133 for individual and $4,697 for family coverage.

I am not against the state employees who have to pay for their own coverage, but where is the fairness to the rest of Floridians working and struggling to make ends meet, paying almost twice as much for health care coverage and footing the bill for those who do not pay premiums?

As this state's budget woes continue to mount there has never been one alternative from our legislators to look at themselves in saving money that would benefit the state they are elected to serve. This freebie insurance is sure one way to immediately allow $45 million pumped back into the state coffers instead of finding more ways to bleed the taxpayers and cut programs for the needy.

If I made $100,000-plus a year, I would find a way to afford health care insurance and still live comfortably. Who is serving whom?

Jack Burlakos, Kenneth City

You pay for their insurance | Dec. 1, story

It's not all state workers

After reading this article, I am quite irritated by the generalizations made in it. This is yet another attempt by the St. Petersburg Times to discredit all state employees in Florida. Simply because politicians and higher level bureaucrats receive health insurance as part of compensation packages does not mean all state employees receive this benefit.

As a state employee, I pay a total of $235.47 a month for health insurance, vision benefits and dental insurance, which includes coverage for both my husband and me. This does not include the annual deductibles or co-pays we must pay out of pocket. I hardly believe we are receiving health insurance for free. A benefit of working for the state of Florida is the reduced cost of health insurance; it's obviously a trade-off in terms of salary.

The comparison of health insurance premium increases of state employees versus other workers in Florida failed to include the lack of raises and cost-of-living increases.

I think the article made a generalization about all state employees and the assumption is simply not true. I was very disappointed in the facts presented in this article and the lack of representation of lower-level public servants.

Kimberly Lasher, Riverview

You pay for their insurance | Dec. 1, story

All should pay a share

There seems to be a major disconnect between the front-page story of how we taxpayers are subsidizing health care for our state elected officials and the story on Page 4A about millions of people who may lose their subsidies for COBRA health insurance coverage. These people are unemployed and the subsidy at least gave them some sense of security while looking for another job.

On the flip side, the people in Washington, who are supposedly looking out for our best interests, are fighting to make sure that the insurance companies' best interests are the main concern when writing health care legislation.

There is absolutely no reason why everyone can't pay their fair share in these economically depressed times, including our "elected" representatives. A single-payer system would be the best for everyone, but sadly I will not likely see this in my lifetime.

For the record I pay more than $500 a month to keep myself and my wife covered under a substandard plan that is subsidized through my employer. That's all we can afford, but it's better than no insurance. It's hard to imagine what we would do if I was suddenly out of a job.

David Call, Tampa

You pay for their insurance | Dec. 1, story

It's part of the deal

In your continued efforts to paint as black a picture of Gov. Charlie Crist as possible, you are really reaching now. I am a retired police officer and during my career I was paid by the taxpayers of my municipality, who also paid my health insurance. That was part of the contract when I joined the department.

People working for the government are paid by the taxpayers and at the time they are hired health insurance was part of the contract. They are the taxpayers' employees and as such receive health insurance as part of the package. Cut and dry, no news story.

Frankly I don't care who you recommend and I don't care who gets elected. The whole lot of them should hang their heads over the way they have failed to perform their duties and have let the American people and the country down.

John Masterson, Spring Hill

A career drawn to laughter, Don Addis, 1935-2009 | Dec. 1

Addis forever

Yes, I remember this column by Don Addis, originally printed in 2004 when he announced his retirement. And even though it's a great column, I was sorry to read it then, just as I am sorry to read it upon his death. No one can deny that Addis had a way with words. Wasn't he something?

While we pay tribute to "the best of Don Addis," I would like to salute Addis as being among "the best of the best." There are some (like myself) who loved him, though some didn't like him at all. Nevertheless, Addis wrote as he believed.

And even though at times Don Addis would have preferred that others would simply "go away," my genuine hope is that his writings will never disappear and go away.

JoAnn Lee Frank, Clearwater

State workers deserve their health coverage 12/02/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 2, 2009 7:05pm]
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