About the Author
Mark Richardson is a multimedia journalist, editor and writer who has worked in digital, print and broadcast media for three decades. He is a nationally recognized editor and reporter who has covered government, politics and the environment. A journalism graduate from the University of Texas at Austin, he was recently awarded a Foundation for Investigative Journalism grant and has three Associated Press Managing Editors awards for excellence in reporting.
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Travis County health care bill over budget
Travis County Commissioners received a large and unexpected health care bill Tuesday. According to Jessica Rio of the county Planning and Budget office, they needed an additional $4 million for the rest of the fiscal year to cover the cost of claims for county employees. Travis County is self-insured, meaning that it directly pays the costs of its employees’ medical claims. Commissioner Gerald Daugherty said that despite putting in an additional $7 million for health insurance in 2014, they are exceeding the budget. “If we’re not taking on this health care thing the way that we need to as an entity, then we’re just going to continue to watch it escalate to the point that we really can’t get our arms around it,” he said. “When you talk about our current payout actually being $52.87 million, and last year’s total was $52.32 million. And with five weeks left, we’re averaging about a million dollars a week.” Daugherty added that the number of claims above $25,000 has grown to 167 this year compared to 147 for all of last year. Commissioners, who approved the extra funds, have contracted with a new administrator for FY 2015 in hopes of keeping costs down without having to cut benefits to the county’s 5,000 employees.
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