As Palm Beach County commissioners sifted through challenges regarding the 2017 budget during a meeting at the Palm Beach County Convention Center Tuesday, Commissioner Paulette Burdick had an idea.
The county should look into tying insurance costs to the lifestyles of employees, Burdick suggested. Making healthier choices – say, quitting smoking or losing weight – could reduce an employee’s health care costs.
The county has a voluntary program like that now, and Burdick’s colleagues made it clear they didn’t want it to go beyond voluntary.
After several skeptical questions – Commissioner Steven Abrams wondered aloud if employees would be asked to provide blood for testing; Commissioner Shelley Vana asked how the county might learn about an employee’s binge drinking on the weekend – Burdick told county staff she still wants her colleagues to get information on how such an insurance program could work.
“It’s clear they don’t understand it, or I am not articulating it well enough,” Burdick said.
That comment didn’t sit well with her colleagues.
“I don’t want the information,” Abrams said, saying he’d oppose implementing such a program, which he described as overly intrusive.
Vana didn’t want the information, either.
“If I need more information on a topic, I will request it,” she said. “I don’t need another commissioner to request it for me.”
After an uncomfortable pause, County Mayor Mary Lou Berger stepped in: “Moving on to another topic…”