County health care expenses appear to expose larger issue

It’s costing 19 percent more than budgeted this year to pay for the health care of Lycoming County government employees.

That’s disturbing, to the tune of $2 million in health care costs over the budgeted amount.

More disturbing is one of the reasons given by Commissioner Rick Mirabito — that there are too many public employees receiving the health care.

There was an effort — something close to a promise — a couple years ago to eliminate 20 employees through attrition. The county has fallen far short of that.

We are told employees who have retired in recent years have said in exit interviews that they were bored or recommended their position not be filled.

That sounds like a pretty solid endorsement for cutting the size of county government.

Commissioner Tony Mussare says a big part of the increased health care costs is employees who are not following instructions when they are discharged and wind up being readmitted, increasing the county’s health care costs significantly.

He vowed changes to stop employees from taking advantage or misusing the county’s health care coverage.

That’s fine.

But it sounds like the first order of business should be cutting the number of employees for which the county is paying health care premiums.

We understand that the county can’t completely control health care costs. That’s the nature of health care.

But it can control the size of county government and if exiting employees are saying they are bored, that says a lot about the need for the position they are leaving.