KCET’s ‘Life & Times’ Considers Availability of Dependent Health Coverage for Casino Workers
KCET's "Life & Times" Tuesday examined claims by workers employed by the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians of inadequate compensation and a lack of affordable dependent health insurance coverage (Bruce, "Life & Times," KCET, 4/29). According to a survey by the University of California-Los Angeles' Institute of Industrial Relations, the children of nearly half of the Agua Caliente casino workers are covered by government-sponsored health insurance because the tribe does not offer affordable dependent coverage. Although the tribe covers its employees and offers family insurance plans, the majority of the casino's employees cannot afford the $2,880 annual cost of the family insurance plan. The average cost for similar plans in the state is $1,806 per year (California Healthline, 3/18). Agua Caliente Chair Richard Milanovich disputed the study's findings and said that "the clear majority" of workers are "quite happy" with the health benefits package, which features free coverage for employees. According to Milanovich, there is "nothing unusual" about plans requiring employees to contribute if they choose dependent coverage. However, Jack Gribbon, state political director for the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union, said the tribe should pay for dependent coverage and that lawmakers "should be alarmed" that casino employees are using taxpayer-supported health programs instead of participating in employer-sponsored coverage ("Life & Times," KCET, 4/29). The full program is available online in RealPlayer. In addition, the full transcript of the program is available online.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.