Branstad: Officials should pay health insurance

2012-02-04T23:45:00Z 2012-02-05T04:08:48Z Branstad: Officials should pay health insuranceBy ROD BOSHART, Lee-Gazette Des Moines Bureau Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier

JOHNSTON, Iowa --- Gov. Terry Branstad said Friday he would like to see elected officials in Iowa "lead by example" by paying for 20 percent of the cost of their state-provided health insurance coverage.

"I think that would make a lot of sense to require that for elected officials and legislators," the governor told reporters after Friday's taping of Iowa Public Television's "Iowa Press" show.

Branstad said most private-sector employees pay at least a 20 percent share of their overall health insurance benefit, while people who are switching or are in between jobs, farmers and other self-employed Iowans pay 100 percent of their health-care costs.

On Thursday, legislative Republicans issued their fiscal 2013 budget targets, which included a plan to save nearly $43 million by requiring all roughly 45,000 state employees and nearly 160 elected officials and legislators to contribute $200 per month for their health-insurance coverage under the state's single or family plans.

However, they conceded the proposal might stall if unionized state workers refused to reopen the current collective bargaining agreement that runs through June 30, 2013, to renegotiate health-insurance benefits.

House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, R-Hiawatha, said legislative Republicans would like to see a change accomplished this year, but he added "the most plausible scenario" would be that such a requirement probably couldn't take effect until at least July 1, 2013.

Branstad said he supports that change and would like to see the provision for elected officials proceed this session, even if the proposal to apply a charge for health insurance to all state employees stalls during budget negotiations with House-majority Republicans and Senate-majority Democrats.

"I understand what their goal is and I understand that they would love to see this accomplished, and I would too. But I think, if it appears as we go on through the session that it's not something that can be accomplished, then we ought to at least lead by example," the governor told reporters.

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(2) Comments

  1. UNIGrad99
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    UNIGrad99 - February 06, 2012 11:02 am
    I would guess some of the "missing money" comes from the fact that some state workers, especially those on family plans, may actually already be paying something, so you would lose $2,400 for each individual like that. Of course, that calculates out as over half of the 45,000 state employees paying more that $200/month, which would see a bit high, but I don't really have anything to base that on.
  2. badtoe
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    badtoe - February 05, 2012 8:56 am
    This whole "grand plan" won’t happen as the contract will not be reopened, as long as current union members remember having to sue TB in past years for his various actions. However let’s say this plan did happen... Simply reviewing the figures listed in the story: If approx 45,000 state employees were to pay $200/month for 12 months, that would be a collection of approx $108 million, right? However, the story only lists a savings of $43 million? Do the remaining dollars trickle to the hidden set of “cooked books” again? Do they help pay for TB’s double dipping of taking his salary and IPERS at the same time? Just wondering?… Seems like some money missing somewhere...

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