Health Coverage Dropped for Employees of Brooks County

Brooks County employees will soon lose their health insurance coverage as the commissioners court there has voted to cancel health plans for all county employees.

This means that 95 people are losing their health insurance, including County Judge Raul Ramirez.

"On a personal note, look at me. I had a catastrophic event. I had a massive heart attack. I'm uninsured, you know, so who's going to insure a 60-year old man that just had a quadruple bypass?" Ramirez said. "So you think I enjoy what we had to do? No."

County employees are receiving notices reading "Effective March 31st at midnight, Brooks County will no longer offer health insurance coverage to employees." The commissioners court voted to terminate the health plans for county employees due to insufficient funding, saying there are no available funds to pay the expenses of the health plan.

The county judge blames the lack of revenues coming into the county on a decline in oil and gas production over the years. Meanwhile, the impact of the canceled health care plans will be felt across departments.

"It was a tough decision the commissioners court had to make," Ramirez said. "It's a decision that has sleepless nights, you know. I mean it affects, when I say it affects our livelihood, it affects our employees. Honestly, would you like to work for Brooks County with no benefits?"

"I can hear the branches within the tree starting to crack a little bit, you know, and I mean with personnel, there's talk from the jail division that maybe four of them have to re-evaluate their situation," said Chief Deputy Benny Martinez of the Brooks County Sheriff's Office.

They are not the only county employees that have to re-evaluate their situation. The chief deputy called the cancellation of the health plan coverage as a major crisis for many county employees, saying that a lot of single mothers and fathers have to provide for their families, and it is a very difficult situation for them.

Both the chief deputy and the county judge said they understand employees having to looking elsewhere for jobs and move on, and they don't blame them.


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