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Politics & Government

Hall-Long promises a health-focused tenure as Lt. Gov. if elected

Photo courtesy: Hall-Long campaign

State Sen. Bethany Hall-Long (D-Middletown) says compromise needs to be made to pare down looming public worker health care costs.

But she says if she’s elected as Lieutenant Governor, she wouldn’t support an idea from Gov. Jack Markell (D) to force all new employees to sign up for a Health Savings Account, or HSA.

“I actually have one. I do not think it’s the right step at this time to go to one size fits all for the state yet. I feel that it needs a little more study and we need to look at other preventable measures,” Hall-Long said.

Under the plan, the state would have given workers cash toward their deductibles, but employees would have been on the hook between $1,000-$2,000 each year.

It failed to gain any traction from state lawmakers this past year.

Hall-Long says another solution is needed, but didn’t cite specifics on how to deflate a projected $484 million deficit in the state employee health fund by 2022.

Statewide, she wants to send community healthcare workers into zip codes with the highest rates of obesity, diabetes and other health problems. While there, they would connect residents to clinics or doctors and teach them how to lead healthier lives.

Environmental stewardship is also among the top planks in her platform.

Hall-Long says state officials need to vigorously fine polluters, as well as better educate the public on littering and recycling.

She would not support a proposed fee on state income tax returns to help clean up legacy pollution that has left people unable to swim in most rivers and lakes.

“It may mean taking from one source to give to another, but I can clearly tell you when this proposal was floated earlier this year, there was a lot of angst among voters who were struggling everyday to put food on their table and get gas in their car who were not keen on having to have a household tax,” Hall-Long said.

It’s unclear if a statewide fee proposal will come up in the General Assembly next year.