I received emails from several employees of Calhoun County who were concerned about an email they recently received from the administration explaining their “Vaccine Thank You” program.

The email is as follows:

Renk

Their first thought was why spend taxpayer dollars rewarding or incentivizing Calhoun County employees who inform and prove to Human Resources they are fully vaccinated against Covid-19.  

I spoke to the Calhoun County Administrator/Controller, Kelli Scott to better understand this program.  She sent me a document which stated:

“Calhoun County is offering one-time taxable cash payments of $100 for our employees who show to our HR office between now and August 31 proofs  of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19”

When I spoke to Ms. Scott she informed me there was a business reason they offered this incentive.  That reason was also stated in the document she shared with me and it stated:

“Calhoun County, as a large employer, is self-funded for employee healthcare, meaning we pay all actual claims costs up to a stop loss amount of $170,000 per person. The cost of this stop loss coverage is based on actual payment history and so while that coverage protects us from immediate cash costs, in the long run very large claims also increase our costs, ultimately borne by our taxpayers…The County’s direct medical claims costs in 2020 according to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan exceeded $170,000, with 337 of our employees, spouses and children receiving COVID-19 related medical care. More than half of these costs were for inpatient hospital stays”

The other concern these employees had voiced to me was what if they did not want to receive the vaccination shot and what could that mean to their employment in the immediate and long-term future.  I asked Ms. Scott to address this concern of some of the County employees.  These employees were concerned the administration was attempting to determine who received and did not receive the Covid-19 vaccinations. 

Ms. Scott stated:

“The Vaccine Thank You program is truly and simply a reward for employees who have been vaccinated against COVID-19, which fits within our overall wellness strategies.  The County is not creating a list of or tracking which employees are not vaccinated.  We value individual choice and have no plans to mandate vaccines or punish those who don't get vaccinated.  We also have policies in place to prevent harassment in the workplace and we don't tolerate hostile work environments.  We will investigate any situation where an employee reports improper treatment by supervisors or coworkers because they are not vaccinated.”

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