Hey, Yolo County is not in the Bay Area

By Matt Rexroad and Mat Ehrhardt

Virtually every agency in the state considers Yolo County to be a part of the Sacramento region. Yolo County is a part of the Sacramento Area Council of Governments. Yolo County residents find Sacramento affiliates on their televisions and Sacramento stations on their radios.

Caltrans, the National Weather Service and even the new Covered California program all consider Yolo County to be a part of the Sacramento region. Maps agree, too: The three major population centers of Yolo County are all within 30 minutes of Sacramento County.

Only one agency — the California Public Employees’ Retirement System — thinks differently.

CalPERS has left Yolo and five other Sacramento-area counties in its Bay Area Region, where public employees pay health care premiums 15 percent higher on average than residents of Sacramento, Placer and El Dorado counties. That’s according to CalPERS’ own data.

These Yolo County civil servants are making Sacramento-area wages and visiting the same Sacramento doctors at the same Sacramento health care facilities as their neighbors in CalPERS’ Sacramento Region. So why are they paying Bay Area health care rates?

Moving Yolo and five other area counties — Yuba, Sutter, Nevada, Amador and San Joaquin — from the Bay Area Region to the Sacramento Region would mean that thousands of local public employees can pay their fair share for health care premiums, not hundreds of dollars per year more.

Putting Yolo and the other five counties where they belong would raise rates for Bay Area public employees an estimated 3 percent, according to CalPERS. What that means is that right now the Bay Area premiums are being artificially subsidized to the tune of 3 percent by Sacramento-area residents arbitrarily designated as Bay Area workers. Why should workers in Davis, Woodland and West Sacramento pay the same rates as workers in San Francisco, Marin and the South Bay?

The current alignment is unfair. CalPERS ought to recognize widely held geographic norms instead of girding against protest from the Bay Area. Fairness should trump expedience.

We urge the CalPERS Pension and Health Committee on April 15 to make the common-sense decision to move Yolo County to where it belongs: the Sacramento region.

— Matt Rexroad represents the 3rd District on the Yolo County Board of Supervisors. Mat Ehrhardt is the executive director of the Yolo-Solano Air Quality Management District.

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