Dallas County Judges Debate Failed Health Insurance Plan

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Two Dallas County judges engaged in a terse exchange during Tuesday’s meeting while discussing a well-intentioned health insurance plan for the underemployed that never caught on.

Judge Maurine Dickey is upset that colleague John Wiley Price keeps pulling her motion off the court agenda.

In it, Dickey wants to transfer what’s left of the money from the failed health insurance program go to an alternate plan in Austin that may, one day, expand to include Dallas again.

The original Dallas-based plan didn’t get enough takers and was shut down on August 31. But those who used it, like a Mesquite private Christian school, praise it.

“It’s extremely important,'” said Barbara Kilpatrick of the Appleseed Academy. “We operated the first two years without any health insurance.” Aug 31,

The Appleseed Academy is one of the few small businesses that used the program before it was shut down. The school has 110 children from age two to the third grade. Six employees used the program, which was paid for with a state grant.

“Before we had health insurance I had taken one of my employees to a doctor because she had no money to see a doctor,” Kilpatrick said.

They finally got onto the Dallas-based plan in February. When it went under last month they were switched to an alternate program through a different provider.

But that may run out next February unless a new program steps in. Dickey argues there are too many working poor in the county to let that happen.

“People who are over 200 percent of poverty aren’t eligible for Parkland’s health care unless they pay for it,” Dickey said.

She added that Parkland was the only area hospital to buy into the program. Price said it really failed because of bloated salaries and travel expenses coupled with marketing efforts that turned up few takers.

All Kilpatrick knows is that her business needs this lifeline.

“Cost effective insurance?” asked Kilpatrick. “It’s almost impossible for a small business like mine with fewer employees.”

Any local business with an interest in trying to match up to a similar program for low wage employees can email Tamela Southan with Benefit Solutions By Design at tamela@benefitsbd.com.

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