Wednesday, December 02, 2009
Public employee health insurance, public health
by Larry Geller
Ian Lind is working hard on the issue of public employee health plans. He seems to be the only one chasing this down, and I felt like supporting his effort in a small way. I did that by filing a request for opinion from the OIP. It’s a small thing and easy to do. Ian is doing the heavy lifting on this one. See for example his article today, Possible sunshine law violations cloud decisions on public employee health plans.
I was concerned with something very simple: could a board, commission or other entity subject to the Sunshine Law escape the law just by bringing in a mediator? It doesn’t sound reasonable. So let’s find out. I was surprised that only one person (me) had asked OIP about this, but it was easy to do.
Follow Ian on this one, though. It’s complicated and important to the public employees concerned.
I’m going to work for the moment at getting attention to the rat infestation in our food markets. So why not check out Starting to ask questions about Hawaii food safety or the video at Invitation to Honolulu Chinatown after dark, and if it bothers you that our Department of Health can’t keep the rats out of our food supply, please write some letters to the editor or call the DOH yourself and ask about it.
Actually this came up recently when the state and public workers’ union went behind closed doors with an arbitrator. I raised the issue in the context of the Honolulu press doing the headless chicken dance over their exclusion without even bothering to ask the OIP. Then Derrick DePledge asked and got an “it’s ok”, informally from the attorney of the day.
But since a board can just bring in an attorney and claim HRS 92-5(a)4 to talk about just about anything- including public policy- I wouldn’t be surprised if other such loopholes exist. Perhaps this year when Les Ihara introduces his good governance reforms people will support Pthem... and pig will soar.