Albertville Councilman Wants Changes to City Health Plan

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ALBERTVILLE, Ala, (WHNT) -- The only Albertville City Council member to vote against allowing council members to elect to be covered by the city's healthcare plan is now the only one who will be insured under the new policy.

Nathan Broadhurst does not want to enroll in the Local Government Health Insurance Plan (LGHIP), and contacted WHNT News 19 to bring it to our attention and explain why he is enrolling despite his previous public opposition.

"Because I took such a strong stand against it and disagree with it so strongly, I felt like given the circumstances of being pretty much effectively forced to participate in it, that I needed to explain myself to my constituents," Broadhurst said.

During his campaign Broadhurst told voters he would not enroll in the city's health care plan, and believes it led to him being the only council member to win re-election.

"It was one of the things that showed them that I'm looking out for the citizens of Albertville and not for myself and that was why I was opposed," he said.

"If you participate then it shows you are taking advantage of being a council member, you are taking advantage of the taxpayers and subsidizing your health insurance costs with their money, and I had a problem with that, and I still have a problem with that."

Albertville will spend about $5,000 dollars a year to insure Broadhurst while he pays $520, and a family plan costs the city about $12,500 and $1,040 for a council member.

He said he would rather find health insurance on his own and save the city money.

Broadhurst considers the council a part time job, and said he disagrees with a plan in which other part time city employees do not get to enroll.

"If there was any other way for me to avoid this, I would be doing that," he said.

Broadhurst has always had a private individual plan through Blue Cross, but in October his wife became a full time employee of the city of Guntersville, so he's currently covered through her family plan through the Local Government Health Insurance Plan.

However, when LGHIP starts for Albertville council members in January, that goes away.

"You cannot cover a wife, husband, or other dependent if they are covered or eligible for coverage under another unit's LGHIP plan.  That's where that rule kicks in and doesn't allow me to participate in hers, because I'm technically eligible on the plan through Albertville because of the action that the last council took.  That I was opposed to."

He said that rule would require them to have separate plans even if she were an Albertville employee, as one could have a family plan while the other paid for individual coverage.

Broadhurst could get out of the city plan if he were covered by a company group plan, but he does not have access to one as he is self-employed.

"With no other options to decline, the only other way I could have avoided enrolling in the plan was to refuse to comply with their rules, and if I had done that it would not have allowed the mayor or any other council members to participate," Broadhurst said.

He said he is not opposed to the mayor participating as he views that as a full time job.

"There's a right and wrong way to do things and I didn't feel like that was the right way to make my point and change the problem by taking away someone else's right, because technically the council gave those members the right to participate," he said.

"Unfortunately because of the rules that this bureaucracy in Montgomery has put in place, if they want to participate, I have to participate."

Broadhurst said this shows what happens when lobbyists for insurance companies get together with the policymakers in Montgomery.

"They come up with rules that aren't beneficial to cities and employees, but are beneficial to Blue Cross Blue Shield and the state government.  It's absolutely absurd that a board in Montgomery can effectively force an elected official to buy their product and nothing else."

Broadhurst is working on letters to state senator Clay Scofield and state representative Kerry Rich to ask them to see if they can get the State Employee Insurance Board to change the rules about LGHIP.

He said another option the city council is already talking about is finding a different plan.

"Best case scenario if they change the rules for LGHIP, next November would be the earliest I could get off of it, and it would probably be the same thing if we decided to go with a different provider," Broadhurst said.

He said it will be at least a year that he has to put up with the current plan, but in that time he hopes to make a change to a better solution.