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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Brown Blinks on Health Care Cuts

Look what you did to Mr. Bigglesworth!
This is good news for Northampton County workers. After a week of bizarre behavior that extended from posting armed guards at a news conference to blocking the Controller's emails. Executive John Brown has finally blinked. For three Council meetings in a row, worker after worker told him his health care cuts were too draconian. He ignored them. He also ignored a majority of County Council who adopted a resolution asking him to reconsider his health plan cuts. He rejected private advice from Council members, both Democrat and Republican, who told him he simply was asking for too much from the worker. But in a sign that perhaps his cranial rectosis is finally in remission, Brown has reversed course from an action that made him look more like Dr. Evil than a County Executive.

In start contrast to last week's antics, a subdued Brown announced his concession at the end of last night's Council budget hearing, almost as though it were an afterthought. He even called it an "FYI."
Deciding to change the drapes would be an FYI. This was a bombshell.

The County is purchasing gap insurance for next year. This means employees will only have a $2,500-5,000 deductible.

Below is the compete exchange, which you can see yourself.

Brown: "Next week, you'l be receiving from the Administration a contract. The contract is related to the health care program that we're offering our employees. Cathy Allen's been working on this since July. We've created a gap insurance policy that will allow us to fundamentally create the secondary insurance policy that will create an out-of-pocket cap that's been asked for by the employees. If you are single, it will be $2,500. For families, it will be $5,000. The cost of that - a little over $100,000. It's a single source, a special program that's been put together specifically for Northampton County. The Administration will fund that for 2015 on behalf of the employees. It should meet their needs. But that will be coming to Council for next week."

Peg Ferraro: "So the gap insurance will be paid by the County?

Brown: "For 2015, the County will pay for that insurance. That will give the employees the time, which they've asked for, to be able to plan and then decide after a year of use of that type ofpolicy if it's something they would like to take up, and we'll take that up in '16."

Glenn Geissinger: I just want to be clear. So the out-of-pocket expense for a single individual - $2,500.For a family - $5,000.

Brown: That's with the secondary -  

Geissinger:  "- secondary insurance, which the County will be paying for."

Brown: "That is correct. That's what we're proposing, however until, you know, it would have to come before council."

Ken Kraft:  "So, John, the gap insurance is covering from $2,500 to $6,600, that gap there -

Brown: -  "Yes, that's correct. $5,000 for the $13,200 differential for a family."

Kraft:  "So, it'll enact itself when the person has - let's say you're single - ... has $2,500 worth of healthcare costs. I'm paying 10% of it up front, so when I get to $2,500, then the gap insurance kicks in and I don't pay anymore for the rest of the year.

Brown: "That .. fundamentally ...

Kraft:  "- I'm trying to simplify it."

Brown: "That's how the mechanics would work. Yes."

He's finally doing the decent and the right thing. But he's done a lot of damage, both to himself and to the County he serves. He has destroyed the morale of what he considers the County's most important asset. He needlessly stressed a large number of them, and the Civil Division has lost all four of its deputies as a result of his hardball approach to the staff.

He has lost the County workers and won't be getting them back, in my opinion. The employees and their family account for about 7,000 registered voters, and I am sure they will be at the polls the next time his name comes up.

Blogger's Note: Originally posted 10/29, 6 pm.

71 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bernie can u provide details before midnight? Inquiring minds want to know.

Anonymous said...

Still not good enough! Apples and Oranges LC Exec and NC Exec and how employees are paid and treated. Sad

Anonymous said...

I'm hopefully optimistic that Executive Brown saw the light and understands that compromise isn't a bad thing. An effective leader governs from the middle. I believe his next step will be to distance himself from his consultants, no inside information just my personal feeling.

Anonymous said...

You can watch the Council Budget Meeting on video if you want more details before midnight.

It's pretty much what Bernie said. The proposal would cost NorCo $100,000 in year 2015.

Anonymous said...

So, now Panto can fuck those same out of city residents for his 1.95% commuter tax and go to sleep at night...

Tired of Being Broke said...

U can bet ur butt I WILL BE AT THE POLLS NEXT ROUND & AGAIN.....I will NOT vote for Mr. John Brown!!!

Anonymous said...

If Cathy Allen has been working on this since July why are we just hearing about this now? I think this is an attempt by both Brown and Allen to save face, beware of wolves in sheep clothing! The county employees need to keep the pressure on this stiff! Please notice that this is only for 2015, we'll be having this same fight in 2016. I just want to remind my fellow non-union employees that he still intends to take sick, vacation, and personal time away from each and every one of us. Let's keep the pressure on, keep speaking at council meetings and keep speaking at the ballot box!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Regardless what crap Matt Deibert is feeding him, Brown has lost the confidence of the county workforce. They have every right to be suspicious of his claim. If true, why would he not tell workers about this possible lifesaver? I just no longer feel he cares about the people who work for the county, and instead has made the county look bad.

Anonymous said...

All of is county worker's work hard..
gracedale workers have given alot back over the years and this new health care law is go to drain us even more... I understand we need to pay for benefits, but this is a huge jump from what we were paying. .. I'm a single parent and living paycheck to paycheck I cannot afford for this to take effect January 2015

Anonymous said...

So this is what Cathy Allen has been working so diligently on.

Anonymous said...

Although there is some compromise here it is not enough. On non-union and new employees this is too much financial burden. This is still not an acceptable plan and this budget should be rejected by council. AGAIN, county employees are not at fault for the fiscal problems of this county. STOP putting this on our backs. Give us reasonable equal pay to the private sector or leave ALL of our benefits as they are alone. Stop scapegoating us for the county's financial problems. Remember, we provide services to the community, we do what family members won't do. Don't cut off your nose to spite your face. I won't accept this nor should any employee of the county.
Brown probably did this so he could look good...he still looks the the skidmark he is!
This is not an acceptable compromise.

Anonymous said...

The devil is in the details. Why was the workforce put through this misery if there was another insurance solution? All along Allen and her devious allies from C3 were relishing their plan to screw the employees with astronomical deductibles. Only after months of public embarrassment is Brown changing course. Who is the county buying the gap insurance from? One of Brown's other cronies? You just cannot trust this guy.

Bernie O'Hare said...

It will be a no-bid contract, likely bc of the exigency of circumstances. It will have to be vetted by council, and Brown should release the name of the company ASAP so the matter can be as transparent as possible.

Anonymous said...

A $100 K sole source? Put together by whom- C3? What kind of kickbacks will Brown or Allen going to be getting from this contract. They have both been proved to be untrustworthy.

Anonymous said...

Seth Vaughn absent again. Were you going to look into his attendance at Council meetings, Bernie?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Not until December, when I do my annual report. I did confront him, and you can see what effect it had. He knows most people don't read blogs or newspapers and is counting on being able to schmooze people.

Anonymous said...

B.I.N.G.O.

Anonymous said...

Brown does the right thing and you make fun of him. Is it true that Angle told you to take this guy down so he can run?

Anonymous said...

This is still a 1000% increase in out of pocket expenses. Not acceptable on any level, but especially when the employee is facing cuts in hours, vacation, sick, personal, etc. I agree with 11:55- why all the turmoil if this was even an option? I think it was a diversion from the fact that all the other benefits are being taken away. Ok, I'll give on health benefits, but to pay for it, I'm cutting all your time off, pension and longevity benefits. Look out- he isn't done screwing us yet.

Anonymous said...

This is just a ploy. Next year employees will need to be paying for that gap coverage. He is still a slime ball. All he wants to do is stop the train wreck he has started. Dont fall for this or we will all be sorry.

Anonymous said...

What will it cost the worker when we have to pick it up? Still will be a pay cut with no pay raises, and cuts in our other benefits. And he outright lied about working on it because it was mentioned by someone at the DHS lunch and he said nothing. He wants the pressure to stop, the only chance we have is to keep it up. I dont believe the unions will fall for this either.

Anonymous said...

The County has always had insurance even though they are self pay to pay for a higher medical expense. Now Brown is planning to purchase another one to cover lower costs.

The employees in NorCo can not afford this health plan. Plain and Simply they cannot afford another 6 months of this executive and his minions running the show either.

Anonymous said...

Compromise requires concessions to the requests of both parties. Brown did not negotiate with the workers.

c said...

Thank you for your compromise Executive Brown. Please continue to work with people.

Anonymous said...

11:51 - crybaby union puke

Anonymous said...

10:31,, cry me a river

Anonymous said...

6:27, I hope not

Anonymous said...

Brown & Allen will be housed with Jim Gregory someday. Is the contract going to Marino Saveri's insurance firm that Allen works for? How many laws do these thieves need to break before the proper authorities take notice? Or is there a grand jury already hearing this? Remember Karen Dolan? She pares in comparison to the $$$ being misplaced!

Anonymous said...

"pales"

Anonymous said...

at my open enrollment meeting on healthcare the specific questoion of gap insurance was asked..... the c3 dude said he never heard of that!

Anonymous said...

I agree with 11:51. He's acting like the guy who offers candy to the child to get the child to go with him. He should be handled as that kidnapper would be.

This is NOT ENOUGH. We are still UNDERPAID for what we do. With out raises over the next 4 years, we still can't afford our so called healthcare PLUS our bills and gas to get to work at such a wonderful place.

You get what you pay for. If you pay bare minimum that's the work you'll get.

Brown and his cronies need to go!

Anonymous said...

Wait, all of this was over a 100 grand? These tea baggers are something else.

laughing at you said...

he snookered all of you - "if you want a quarter ask do fifty cents"

Anonymous said...

Those are still high deductibles. Most private sector businesses have deductibles in the $1000 single/$2500 family range.

You would expect more compassion since these are public sector workers, who are generally making less than private sectors workers.

Anonymous said...

What is a tea bagger?

Anonymous said...

Because what's good enough for the rest of us non-union slobs.

Obamacare is great if you don't get benefits from your employer which is not the case here.

What is a tea bagger?
Welcome to 2014 time-traveller from 2007!

Anonymous said...

Glad to know Obamacare is all that.

So, exactly WHAT is a tea bagger?

Anonymous said...

Is he planning on extending open enrollment? Why do I have to read about this in a newspaper?

Anonymous said...

The Tea Party movement is an American political movement known for its conservative positions and its role in the Republican Party ("GOP"). It demands a reduction in the U.S. national debt and federal budget deficit by reducing government spending and taxes.[1][2] The movement has been described a mix of libertarian,[3] populist,[4] and conservative[5] activists. It has sponsored multiple protests and supported various political candidates since 2009.[6][7][8] It was successful in 2010, when the Republicans made major gains. It failed to defeat President Barack Obama's reelection in 2012. In 2013 it had escalating conflicts with the big business wing of the GOP, which began organizing to fight back.[9] In the 2014 GOP primaries, the Tea Party's most high profile victory was the defeat of Eric Cantor, the #2 House leader who was attacked for being too close to Wall Street.[10] The most serious defeat for the Tea Party came in Mississippi, where it failed in a bitter challenge to the renomination of Senator Thad Cochran. Commentators saw a "civil war" underway inside the GOP between Tea Party elements and the business-oriented establishment. CQ's Chuck McCutcheon says the fight is "whether the GOP should run candidates who are ideologically devoted to a strict limited-government agenda (the tea party's belief) or those with the broadest possible political appeal in their states and districts (the establishment's)."[11]

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Is he planning on extending open enrollment? Why do I have to read about this in a newspaper?"

This i not a newspaper. It's much worse. A Blog.

Anonymous said...

It's on lehigh valley live. Maybe they read your blog.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Brown does the right thing and you make fun of him. Is it true that Angle told you to take this guy down so he can run?"

Actually, when Brown was doing the wrong thing, you were defending him and claiming the wrong thing was right. Glad to see you admit you're a liar.

As far making fun, I no longer trust the guy or place much stock in anything he says, especially after last week. Prior to that, I could disagree with him and still respect him. I honestly feel now that he has no interest in good government and is willing to sacrifice both employees and services in order to claim he held the line.

How can you not make fun of someone who posts armed guards outside his office?

Bernie O'Hare said...

I suspect that this was what he planned to do all along, and he let people go crazy for 6 weeks about a real shitty plan before being honest and presenting a plan that is more acceptable.

Before last week, I honestly believed Brown had good intentions, but was simply misguided by assholes like Matt Deibert. I no longer think he has good intentions. You can't claim to have that when you post armed guards, block emails, remove web links and refuse to respond to emails.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"It's on lehigh valley live. Maybe they read your blog."

No. Tom Shortell was at the meeting, and ws there on his own time. i can think of things I'd rather do on my own time than attend a budget hearing.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"John Browns next appointments....Lucy Lennon - Clerk of courts....Hector Nemes - Prison Warden.......LMAO"

Actually, those would be good appointments. The workers would start getting treated more fairly.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"at my open enrollment meeting on healthcare the specific questoion of gap insurance was asked..... the c3 dude said he never heard of that!"

That's interesting and something that needs to be explored. I have a hard time believing he was being truthful.

Anonymous said...

I feel it's still too high. I think $1,500 single and $3,000 family would be ok for starters. I don't think the county needs a insurance policy, they could fund this in house with the savings from the plan without spending money.

Just my opinion, and I'm an idiot

Bernie O'Hare said...

It might actually be closer to those figures according to something i heard after the Council meeting, but did not fully understand. I decided not to write about it bc i would be misinforming you, and stuck with what is on the record.

Anonymous said...

Wow! $100 K in gap insurance to help cover the increase in deductibles. That is chump change to solve a problem that Brown created. He should just dump the Sahl and C3 contracts which would more than pay for that premium next year, and would be a far better use of the money.

Anonymous said...

Open enrollment ends TOMORROW and we are all hearing about this from your Blog and from The Express Times. Why is that? John Brown is supposed to go to Gracedale tomorrow for lunch... I wonder if he will address employees via VIDEO like all the other times he speaks to us- if at all- and will he feel the need to post guards? How about some humble pie? This is a joke. This new plan is still not affordable with a 1000% increase in out of pocket for employees who are also getting no raises for 4 years and the threat of reduced hours. He is not done with us- he is coming after vacation, sick and personal time next so not only can you NOT afford to go to the doctor, you won't have the sick time to take in order to get well. Of course, you could take it without pay and go even further into debt AND add on disciplinary action. No good is going to come from any of this. I want to see the numbers. How much is this newly proposed plan going to cost the
county? How much is it worth to me vs the current plan? I have the right to know how much LESS my total compensation package (salary, benefits, fringe) is going to be worth when all is said and done.

Anonymous said...

11:07 Yea//OK Bernie Maybe You should ask the employees of the Parking Authority who lost their jobs about the fairness of the late great "HECTOR" the same guy who screwed every one there to save His dishonest ass........and as for the flip flopping bombshell He calls a girlfriend well I wont evan waste the ink....!

Anonymous said...

anon 10:17, you forgot to mention that the tea party aka teabaggers, believe that almost every government cut should be to social programs, all social programs. they are against social security, Medicare, medicade and immigrants. They are bound together by a common hatred of Pres. Obama. They only get their information from Fox Channel and only read Fox approved authors.

They believe in guns for all and hate Democrats. Don't le the shinny libertarian wrapping fool you. They hate equal rights for gays and women.

Anonymous said...

Let's see Brown's sole source contract for this insurance, and then follow the money. I suspect shenanigans if Allen is involved. Controllers office needs to thoroughly investigate the evolution of this contract' which has appeared out of thin air.

Anonymous said...

Agree!!!!!

Anonymous said...

In the 10 months Mr. Brown has been office he has taken good care of his Republican friends and demonized the rest of the county workforce. He has biven lucrative contracts to his associates, hired supporters at salaries higher than those working for the county for years. He has given unheard of pay raises to two county employees (yes we know your families worked for his campaign). He is filling positions that have been vacant for at least two years with friends, while neglecting to fill needed postions at the prison and other sites that just result in overtime. All this while freezing the wages of the non union workers for 3 years. I am sure the next attack will be on our vacation and sick time. He will justify these cuts by blaming the workers when the real issue is the lack of staff. His curent so called compromise is nothing but an attempt to stop the workforce's united stand. He also either wants to shift the blame on council for not voting on this or give his party a way out of this mess. Why do you think he brought it up at the budget hearing? As of today employees have not been told anything about the proposal. I hope the attendance at the council meetings continue two fold!! I for one would rather go bankrupt, than to fund another one of his 'friends'. I would vote NO on this until all the facts have been made clear.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:31,

Drugs are bad, um-kay?

Anonymous said...

"Guns for all and hate Democrats"

Is this the kind of crap you learned from a good unionized public school teacher or are you self-educated?

Anonymous said...

So Mr. Brown's unilaterally determined compromise is: years of wage freeze, vacation cuts, sick leave cuts, pension reduction, 1 year of health care increased costs with likelihood of larger increases on the horizon. Sounds generous.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:58, Brown FINALLY sent an e-mail to employees today at 4:45pm. (after most employees had left for the day), explaining the gap insurance and extending open enrollment until 11/20, I believe.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Thanks for your message. If anyone has a copy of that email, please feel free to post here.

Anonymous said...

I keep reading about vacation and sick time cuts plus our working hrs being decreased? Are these rumors or did this come from browns mouth?

Bernie O'Hare said...

They come right from his mouth. He conceded that during a presentation to human services.

Anonymous said...

Well said and agreed. You are spot on. I agree...I say NO!!! THIS IS NOT A DEAL FOR US!

Anonymous said...

He didn't talk about work hours. Vacation and sick was mentioned but he never finished the answer when asked. I think first on his list is going to be cutting the payout at retirement. He said he would let people know in time to decide on retirement but who knows if that is true. SAHL was there taking notes so I'm sure it's all documented properly for what they are being paid.

Anonymous said...

Lunch with John Brown tomorrow at Gracedale,wonder what he will be dressed as ,after all it is Halloween! My guess it will be ugly!

Anonymous said...

Another thing Mr. Brown is not saying is what any health plan will cost workers - union or non-union. Non-union folks pay 5% of their pay from each check. Mr. Brown was rumored to have threatened to increase that to 9% but we have not heard more on that. So even with this gap insurance being proposed that might cap the max out-of-pocket at a lower amount, an employee's cost could sky-rocket if Mr. Brown decides to increase an employee's percentage. He is smart enough, or devious enough, to act like he is giving something and then kill us with the cost. The man is not to be trusted. He looked at people's faces at the DHS meeting and said boldly that he had no intention of changing anything and would not change his mind. And now he is proposing a "pretend" compromise. He is not doing this for the staff, so you have to wonder about his motivation.

Anonymous said...

Do we really have to deal with this guy for 3 more years? I don't think I can take it!

Anonymous said...

Dear County employee's..you have just been thrown a bone when you really need a decent meal. Typical BS response to public pressure and bad press. Do not be fooled by this seeming act of largess by the administration. These are calculated moves and responses to a given scenario/reaction. You have won nothing but a temporary reprieve from this guy. A taste of what's to come should make you very aware of what is at stake. Stay unified or be blown away by the next tea bag initiative.

Anonymous said...

"Dear County employee's (sic)"

Dope. You've taken too many tea bags to the face.

Anonymous said...

The voters of Northampton County spoke, elections have consequences and now you get what you deserve. Where were all these folks on election day?

Anonymous said...

Who else advises Brown besides Deibert? Does he consult with the Solicitor?