Two men convicted on bribery charges are among 150 former state legislators who are still enrolled in state government’s health insurance plan, reports WPLN.
Former state senators Ward Crutchfield and Roscoe Dixon were both convicted of bribery following the 2005 sting called Tennessee Waltz. Crutchfield (D-Chattanooga) served six months’ home detention, and Dixon (D-Memphis), four years in federal prison.
But both still receive taxpayer-subsidized health coverage, according to state records released to WPLN. Tennessee lawmakers can keep their health insurance benefits for life.
A law passed in 2010 stripped felons of their coverage. But that law did not apply retroactively. Dixon says denying him and others coverage would be unfair.
“Now, you got to remember, a part of my salary, I paid for that. Are you aware of that? It’s not a freebie.”
In all, 150 former lawmakers remain on state rolls, many long after they’ve moved on to retirement or second careers. They join more than 100 current legislators who are covered.
…Some Insure Tennessee backers say it’s hypocritical for lawmakers to take advantage of state insurance while voting down similar coverage for the working poor.
Dixon says he would’ve supported Insure Tennessee if he were still in the legislature. Current lawmakers, he says, should consider extending their generous health benefits to those who lack them.
“A lot of legislators have tremendous illnesses that haven’t done anything criminal,” said Dixon, “and they’ve been blessed to be part of the Tennessee retirement system. … They have a good policy, and Congressmen and the federal government have good policies, but yet still we don’t want to share that with all of America.”
Note: The WPLN story includes (at the bottom) a list of the former legislators still enrolled in the state health insurance plan.