Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Garton Falls Short In Scaling Back Health Care Perk

Senate Republican leaders announced changes to the health insurance for life legislative perk, but it falls far short of the mark. The AP's Mike Smith reports, "State senators are scaling back some aspects of their state retirement health benefits, but the changes did not go as far as a decision by the Indiana House to end lifetime, taxpayer-subsidized health insurance for certain representatives."

Senate Majority Floor Leader David Long (R-Ft. Wayne) demonstrated just how out of touch he, Garton and his other colleagues are with reality with the comments he made about the change in the perk. "I think our efforts here have been to come up with a plan that is very reasonable and is in line with the modern times we live in today," said Senate Majority Floor Leader David Long, R-Fort Wayne.

Smith's story describes what Long described as reaonable:

The new Senate plan eliminates the subsidized benefit for senators or Senate employees who retire before the age of 50 and stay in the state plan. Those who retire after that and had served more than six years would still receive subsidized health insurance, but their premium copay would be based on a sliding scale that took into account years of service and retirement age.

The longer senators or Senate employees had served and the older they were, the more the state would pay for their health insurance. Those who were younger and had fewer years of service would shoulder more of the insurance premium cost.

Also, retirees would no longer be part of the full plan once they became Medicare eligible. The state would, however, subsidize a Medicare supplement - again based on years of service and retirement age.

In describing the changes, Garton said he consulted Democratic senators in gaining bipartisan support for the change, including Sen. Vi Simpson (D-Bloomington). "We came up with what we believe is a bipartisan effort here that is really comparable to what retirement plans are in the private sector and in many public sectors as well," she said.

In sharp contrast to the Senate change, representatives elected or re-elected this November will have to pay the full cost of their coverage with no state subsidy to stay in the insurance plan after leaving office. They also would lose most of their coverage after becoming eligible for Medicare.

No comments: