Pima County announced this week plans to increase the health insurance cost for those employees who are not fully COVID-19 vaccinated.
The Pima County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday 4-1 to raise unvaccinated employees’ health insurance premiums by more than $60.51 each pay period, which equates to unvaccinated employees losing $1,573.26 annually.
Back on August 16th, instead of mandating vaccines for county employees, the board voted 3-2 to give every employee vaccinated as of Oct. 1 $300 and three extra days of leave. Those payments — which totaled more than $1.2 million as of Aug. 27 — are added to employee paychecks.
Those unvaccinated county employees without valid health or religious exemptions will begin to see the increase in their health insurance costs in their first paychecks in October.
As of Aug. 27, 4,103 of 6,735 county workers confirmed they are fully vaccinated — about 61% of the workforce, according to County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry.
The announcement is not sitting well with county employees who work for Arizona’s second most populous county.
Supervisor Steve Christy, the only dissenting vote, said the increase health insurance costs “unconstitutional” and wrong to penalize unvaccinated workers.
“I really think that this is opening up liability to no end, that if we’re putting this kind of pressure and financial mandate on those who have the right to make the choice for themselves that they don’t want the vaccine — to penalize them is wrong,” he said.
Taking it one step further, in another move to increase vaccination rates, Huckelberry announced Aug. 31 he is requiring all new county hires to be vaccinated as a condition of employment, as well as any current employees who want a promotion.