Monday, January 09, 2006

Lawmakers Health Insurance For Life Benefit Under More Scrutiny

The Indiana Law Blog continues to stay on top of the “health insurance for life benefit” state lawmakers secretly gave themselves in a series of legislative enactments a few years ago. The site reports on a story in today’s South Bend Tribune, entitled “Lawmakers' benefits getting close look: Federal rules may lead to cut in state insurance package”, authored by Martin DeAgostino who writes:

The scrutiny may force cuts in the generous benefits package that would save taxpayer money and limit political fallout from any debate, according to lawmakers and other officials. Speaker of the House Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, has promised administrative action this year to curb the benefits package for all House members elected this year, and Senate leaders are studying the package to determine their own course of action.

DeAgostino’s article spells out the extent of the life-time benefit and the fact that members remain eligible even after they qualify for Medicare. He writes:

It provides health insurance for life for lawmakers, their spouses, ex-spouses and children younger than age 23 who live at home. It also allows the beneficiaries to remain on the state plan once they're Medicare-eligible, unlike most plans that reverse that order.

The article also pointed out that a spokesman for Bosma indicated that the administrative changes he intended to make this year for House members “would affect incumbents as well as newly elected representatives, but not lawmakers who have already retired or who retire this year.” In an earlier interview with WXNT, Bosma indicated that the changes would only apply to newly elected lawmakers.

The Senate, meanwhile, is going to study the issue a little more closely according to Sen. Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville), before it decides what action to take.

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