Protecting the Health and Welfare of County Employees

DATE: September 14, 1999 
TO: Board of Supervisors
SUBJECT: Protecting the Health and Welfare of County Employees

During the past several years, the County has made dramatic improvements that have provided better and faster service for citizens and more cost-effective use of their tax dollars. None of this progress would have been possible without the dedication, diligent efforts, and exemplary work product of our County employees. This Board has an obligation to protect the health and welfare of those who provide vital services to the citizens of San Diego County. When this Board decides to contract out services currently being provided by County employees as a result of restructuring, reengineering, managed competition, or outsourcing, we should require that whoever is hired to do the job will provide their employees with health benefits. This policy will prevent the County from unnecessarily adding to the growing number of San Diego County residents who lack health insurance and will make sure that we maintain a level playing field when County employees compete with the private sector to provide services.

Recommendations:
SUPERVISORS DIANNE JACOB AND RON ROBERTS:
Direct the Chief Administrative Officer to analyze and report back to the Board within 60 days on the feasibility of requiring that health benefits be provided by private sector employers who seek to provide County services currently being provided by County employees.

Fiscal Impact:
There is no fiscal impact associated with this action.

BACKGROUND
During the past several years, the County has made dramatic improvements in its operational efficiency and fiscal integrity. An aggressive program of restructuring, re-engineering, and managed competition has brought significant progress in nearly every County department. This has meant better and faster service for the citizens of San Diego County and more cost-effective use of their tax dollars.

Innovative vision on the part of this Board, decisive leadership on the part of County administrative offices, and support from the public have all played a role in changing the way the County does business. However, none of the progress that has been achieved would have been possible without the dedication, diligent efforts, and exemplary work product of our County employees.

That is why we must continue to give County employees appropriate incentives to support ongoing operational changes. Such incentives include fulfilling this Board's obligation to protect the health and welfare of those who provide vital services to the citizens of San Diego County.

When this Board decides to contract out services currently being provided by County employees as a result of restructuring, reengineering, managed competition, or outsourcing, we should require that whoever is hired to do the job will provide their employees with health benefits. Specifically, the recommendation contained in this Board letter would direct the Chief Administrative Officer examine the feasibility of such a policy and report back to the Board within 60 days.

This policy would prevent the County from unnecessarily adding to the growing number of San Diego County residents who lack medical insurance. Certainly, it is not within either the jurisdiction or the power of the County to single-handedly address the fact that a large and growing number of San Diego County residents are without health insurance. However, if the County is contracting out a service to a private sector employer, then we should not replace employees who do have health insurance with employees who do not. To do so would make County operations more efficient at the cost of making our uninsured problem worse - a problem which taxpayers ultimately foot the bill for in the form of increased premiums and publicly-funded indigent care.

The proposed policy would also make sure that we maintain a level playing field when County employees are competing with the private sector to provide services better, faster and more cost-effectively. A private sector firm does not necessarily offer a better deal for the County or the taxpayers if the only reason for their lower cost is that they don't provide basic health benefits for their employees.

We respectfully urge your support.

DIANNE JACOB
Supervisor, Second District

RON ROBERTS
Supervisor, Fourth District