Voters were duped about CHOICES program


Published: Wednesday, March 1, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, February 28, 2006 at 11:14 p.m.
CHOICES was deliberately placed on the second primary (Aug. 31, 2004) to limit the number of people voting on the initiative. Only 30.1 percent of the electorate voted in the election.
In the general election, on Nov. 2, 2004, 78.4 percent voted. Supporters of the initiative knew that the voters were too naive to realize that they wanted to deliberately manipulate the results of the election in favor of the initiative and that the results of an important decision such as this should not be left up to the "average" voter to decide. Only 43 voters saddled the taxpayers with CHOICES.
Now, resorting to the typical government mentality of "use it or lose it," supporters want to expand the program far beyond what was presented to the voters. Had the proposed changes been presented to the voters, would those same 43 voters have voted in the negative? Who knows? But the credibility of the supporters of the initiative has to be called into question if they allow the proposed expansion of the program.
If we eliminated the program and ceased collecting the tax today while "grandfathering" those 66 individuals already enrolled in same, would the interest on the $9.2 million collected so far pay for their health care? Assuming, for this exercise, that $200,000 has already been spent on administering the program, that leaves roughly $9 million left to invest. At the current "T-Bill" rate of approximately 4.5 percent, that amount would generate over $400,000 a year or $6,100 per participant. The answer to the above question is probably yes.
But the County Commission will most likely expand the eligibility threshold in order to assure that they spend all of the money available to them. And, in the future, they will want more money for the program.
Craig R. Hedgecock, Gainesville

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