Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Senate Ends Health Care Perk

Following the lead of outgoing House Speaker Brian Bosma (R), newly-elected Senate President Pro Tempore David Long (R) announced today that the Senate will end a generous life-time health insurance benefit for senators and staff. The Star's Mary Beth Schneider reports:

Incoming Senate President Pro Tempore David Long, R-Fort Wayne, said the Senate met behind closed doors today and decided to revoke the plan, in which taxpayers footed 75 percent to 100 percent of the cost to cover the retired legislator, staff member, spouse -- even after the legislator's death or divorce -- and dependent children.

While the House and Senate are ending the plan through administrative action, there also is likely to be legislation filed in both chambers to repeal the laws that had created the program.

Outrage over the plan, which was adopted in a series of bills in 2001 and 2002, led to the defeat in the May primary election of former Senate President Pro Tempore Robert D. Garton, R-Columbus.

Garton will be among a handful of legislators who continues to receive the insurance coverage. Long said the Senate will not retroactively end the program. In addition, any retirement-age lawmaker or staff member who retires by July 31 will be eligible to be covered by the then-defunct health insurance plan.

The House had made the plan available to any legislator or staff member who left the legislature before the Nov. 7 general election.

Now-State Sen. Greg "The Flogger" Walker (R-Columbus) can claim his first legislative accomplishment. There is little doubt the plan would still be around if the stubborn Sen. Robert Garton (R), the longest serving president pro tempore in the history of the state had managed to beat back Walker's challenge in this past May's primary. It remains to be seen whether the legislature will end the generous retirement benefit in the form of a 4-1 match for their IRA contributions.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This sounds about right.

There are some retired senators, gone for a few years to many years, who may not have any other insurance.

For some, it may not be a matter of cost, but availability of alternative insurance.