Terry Branstad

Terry Branstad (AP FILE PHOTO)

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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