The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to consider providing fully subsidized health care coverage to county contracted employees.
Supervisors Hilda Solis and Janice Hahn, who co-authored the motion, pointed to the essential role that more than 2,000 security, janitorial, environmental and food service workers play in county-run hospitals, clinics, juvenile halls and other facilities.
“There is no more critical time for these workers to have health care insurance than now during a global pandemic, most especially those working in our county hospitals and facilities,” Solis said. “Without health insurance, it is likely that these contracted staff and their family will be our clients at our hospitals when they get sick.”
The board directed the county’s CEO to coordinate a report on the feasibility and cost of providing these workers with fully subsidized health care coverage, five or more paid sick days, six or more paid holidays and five or more vacation days.
Many of these contracted employees — a majority Black and brown workforce — receive wages below the industry standard for these already low-paying jobs, according to the supervisors.
“These contractors are doing work for the county, and I am embarrassed that many of them have been denied access to affordable health insurance by their employers,” Hahn said.
Some of these workers may be eligible for subsidized insurance through the state’s Affordable Care Act insurance exchange or Medi-Cal, but may not be aware of these benefits, Solis said.
However, she said many are ineligible because they have opted out of employer plans that are not affordable, though technically ACA-compliant.
Hahn suggested that the benefits may be a short-term fix, and that the county should ultimately directly hire these workers.
“This is not what the county stands for and I think we need to consider bringing these jobs in house so these workers can get the healthcare and benefits they deserve.”
A report is expected back in 90 days.