June 26, 2009

RI House Keeps Full Health Care Benefits

Marc Comtois

Entirely unsurprising, now, isn't it?

It is budget-cutting day at the State House, but not when it comes to the free health care packages costing up to $17,296 that are given the state's part-time lawmakers and their families.

The $7.76 billion state budget headed for a vote by the full House of Representatives Wednesday afternoon would give the state's part-time lawmakers who meet on average three days a week, six months a year, a budget totaling $37.4 million, up $1.8 million from the budget lawmakers gave themselves this year.

Free health insurance for the lawmakers is not a big ticket item, but it has in recent years become a sore point for full-time state workers - and others - being asked to pay larger and larger shares of their health insurance premiums each year.

Starting July 1, the average state employee will be required to pay between 13.5 percent and 25 percent of the premiums for their health, dental and vision care packages in amounts ranging from $37.13 to $172.95 biweekly, depending on how much they make and whether they choose individual or family coverage.

Rhode Island lawmakers currently get free health, dental and vision-care benefits. Some voluntarily pay a portion of the premiums; others do not. One of two bills considered by the House Finance Committee on March 3 would have required all of them to pay 10 percent, and the other, 20 percent

The reform bills were submitted by Brian Newberry (R) and Amy Rice (D), so credit them for not having a tin ear.

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With an overall 12% increase in the budget, there really hasn't been an "budget cutting."

The only thing that has occurred is that a few got the deck chairs pulled out from under them as the Democrat General Assembly rearranged the deck chairs here on the RI-tanic.

Posted by: Tom W at June 26, 2009 1:39 PM

This is supposed to be public service, not being serviced by the public.

East Providence school committee voted to get rid of the their health, dental, and life insurance in 2008. Perhaps the GA, and other city bodies should take EPSC's lead.

Posted by: kathy at June 26, 2009 4:44 PM
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