Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett hopes to head off rising healthcare costs by creating a new health clinic for city employees.
The mayor is expected to present his proposal at Thursday’s city council meeting. Bennett says the clinic has been discussed for several years, but it has taken some time for the city to save enough money to start it.
“We believe we’re in the best position we’ve been to implement something like this because we can sustain it,” he says.
Bennett estimates the clinic will cost about $200,000 up front, but he believes the city will save money in the long run by encouraging employees to take fuller advantage of the new system. But the city has a structural deficit in its budget, including needing to find an additional $2 million to $3 million this year to offset shrinking property tax collections.
Still, City Council Member Todd Nation says he will have to hear the full proposal, but he’s looking forward to seeing what the city can do to cut back on health care costs.
I’m glad to see it finally happening. I think that whatever the number is, I think it will represent a savings and not an additional burden to the taxpayers.
To help save money, Bennett wants to eliminate some benefits for employee spouses, including forcing those spouses to purchase health care from their employer, if it’s offered, instead of from the city.
Bennett acknowledges employee health care costs are rising nationwide and costs to employers are forecast to rise as the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented, but believes the city can assume even the rising costs and still pay for the clinic.