Despite promises, Fletcher presented an unacceptable health insurance plan

September 24, 2004

Dear Editor:

I thought that the role of a newspaper was to present news, not opinion on the front page, but your headline this evening ("KEA forces special session on insurance") shows the depths to which you sink to editorialize.

First of all, the governor was forced to call this special session because of his own actions in presenting an unacceptable health plan. Despite promises made less than a year ago to bring health insurance costs down and to increase the number of companies doing business with the state, he has done just the opposite. Costs are higher and only one company is available in each region of the state.

Lest the general public be misled by supposed "newspapers" like yours, state workers and educators are already bearing increased costs for health insurance. My wife and I, with a combined total of more than 50 years of teaching experience, are paying more than $3,300 in health care insurance premiums this year, as well as about $2,000 in additional co-pays. Health insurance costs for us have increased 1,000 percent in less than 10 years, while salaries have risen at 2-3 percent per year - below even the level of inflation.


Under the current proposal (available since Sept. 9 on the state's Web site -, family plans will increase premiums to almost $6,000 in addition to stunningly higher co-pays. I estimate at least an additional $4,000 in co-pays for my family. This, in effect, is a 12 percent salary reduction for our family in a time of rising prices.

If your paper had bothered to do its homework, you would have researched private business health care plans. Other, more fair-minded newspapers in the state have done so, and have called the state plan "grossly inferior."

I am sick to death of teachers being the scapegoats for everyone and everything. Superintendent Bob Rowland of Danville was heard on the radio this week saying that teachers should not be having a "pity party." I would suggest that the Danville Board of Education censure him for his unnecessary and inflammatory comments and, since he makes the big bucks anyway, that they subject him to an involuntary 12-25 percent reduction in income so that he will know how his teachers and staff members feel. I would suggest that your supposed "newspaper" keep its editorial comments out of the headlines and stop slanting the news.

The teachers in this state have worked long and hard to improve the schools that your children attend. Most of us pour our hearts and souls into the job. While, as a previous writer also suggested, we did not enter this profession for the money, we should not be expected to become impoverished or bankrupted because the governor and/or the legislature cannot provide a decent health care plan.

David Underwood-Sweet


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