Archive for Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Douglas County considers extending health benefits to domestic partners

April 26, 2011


Douglas County could become one of the first Kansas counties to extend health care coverage to domestic partners.

County Commissioner Mike Gaughan requested the county investigate extending benefits to domestic partners, a move he said would help the county retain employees and remain competitive.

“A lot of private companies are doing this, so on one level we need to do this to retain quality employees to work for the county and for the public,” he said.

Adding domestic partners to coverage would put the county on par with the Lawrence school district, which already extends coverage, and ahead of most, if not all, Kansas counties. The City Commission has not discussed the matter for its employees.

“This also demonstrates that the county and this community accept families of all kinds,” Gaughan said.

County commissioners will discuss extending coverage to domestic partners at Wednesday’s meeting. If commissioners decide coverage should be extended, the addition will be included in the county’s health care plan, which commissioners will vote on in the coming weeks.

Sarah Plinsky, assistant county administrator, said each employee covered under the county’s insurance costs $4,380 annually. Under this year’s plan, a single employee pays $29 per month while the county has a cost of $543 per month. When adding another person to a plan, costs jump to $183 for the employee and $1,062 for the county.

The county provides its own insurance.

The county has 618 employees using its health insurance, with about 700 eligible for the service. The county extends coverage to various agencies, including Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center, Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department, Extension Council and townships.

County Administrator Craig Weinaug guessed that extending coverage would add seven to 10 people to the plan.

“It’s no different than if we add employees and if we add their dependents,” Plinsky said.

Weinaug said the county’s insurance is reviewed every year around this time, and that he’d spoken with employees over the years who were interested in coverage for domestic partners.


akt2 2 years, 11 months ago, Eunichs. Created to serve God, but deceived into beleiving they are different. If they do what they are created for, their rewards are 7-fold in Heaven.

If they don't, their punishment is 7-fold in Hell.

If you extend those benefits, your souls are in peril.


Ray Parker 2 years, 11 months ago

The structure of our American society is preserved and protected by reserving such benefits strictly for legitimate, traditional, man-and-wife marriage. Besides, we taxpayers cannot afford to hand out frivolous benefits to fornicators and queers.


Scott Morgan 2 years, 11 months ago

Have any of you super libs noticed our great nation is losing stature over the past few years?

Perhaps we did some things right from 1789 to 2008.

But, let's all jump on the Euro Socialist Bandwagon and down down down we go.


Lawrence_Pilot 2 years, 11 months ago

Yawn. Many other governments did this years ago. They just weren't here in JesusLand.


danmoore 2 years, 11 months ago

If married couples receive benefits then so should domestic partners.


Scott Morgan 2 years, 11 months ago

We just read (LJW) about how low Lawrence salaries are and our county wishes to sugar the pot to keep employees who are among the well paid.

Once again the wool is being pulled over our eyes. Twenty nine bucks a month for health insurance is dirty dirt cheap. Which essentially is a benefit of a benefit. Plus is there a problem of high turnaround in the first place?

Who out there in the private sector has Excellent insurance benefits at 29 bucks a month??? Anybody have the guts to list all county employee benefits including retirement?

If nothing else good, I believe this down economy has shed light on how well paid (benefits added) public sector employees have it. The teaching profession is a different cat.


Clark Coan 2 years, 11 months ago

Lawrence already has a Domestic Partnership Registry. A couple, whether same sex or opposite sex, can register online or in person:

Domestic Partnership Registry

Terms and Conditions Pursuant to Chapter 10, Article 2 of the Code of the City of Lawrence, Kansas, 2006 Edition, and amendments thereto, we declare the following to be true and correct:

We are both residents of the City of Lawrence, Kansas as defined in 10-202 of the Code of the City of Lawrence; We share a common permanent residence (we understand it is not necessary that the legal right to possess the common residence be in both our names); We have agreed to be in a relationship of mutual interdependence; We both contribute to the maintenance and support of the household (we understand we are not required to contribute equally to the household); Neither one of us is married to a third individual or a member of a domestic partnership with a third individual; Each of us is 18 years of age or older; Each of us has the mental capacity to contract; We are not related by blood in a way that would prevent us from being married to another in this State. We understand our registration creates no legal rights, other than the right to have our domestic partnership included in the City of Lawrence Domestic Partner Registry;

We understand no person shall register or attempt to register a domestic partnership without the consent of the persons to be registered and that any person who is convicted of violating this section of the City Code shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and shall be punished by a fine of not less than $500 or a jail term of not less than 30 days, or both such fine and jail term;

We understand no individual who has previously filed a Declaration of Domestic Partnership in this City may file a new Declaration of Domestic Partnership until at least 90 days after the date that a Request for Removal from the Domestic Partnership was filed (we understand this prohibition does not apply if the previous domestic partnership ended because one of the partners died);

We understand the information provided on this Declaration of Domestic Partnership will become a part of a public record and may be viewed pursuant to the Kansas Open Records Act.


Armored_One 2 years, 11 months ago

so if it was a man and a woman living together, as man and wife without the legal paperwork, you wouldn't be upset, even though it is the exact same costs that way as it is for same sex partners?

Why do gay people scare everyone so freaking bad?

NOTE: The following opinion isn't meant to be racist. It's simply a statement of fact.

Gay people are the new black people.

Do some research. The same fertilizer was spread about as thick back in the civil rights era. New nouns, same actions. If you can look back and call what was done then racist, then you should be able to say the exact same thing today.

Remember, people adamantly declared, nationwide, that black and white marriages were going to be the downfall of our society. Oh look, now they are saying the same exact things about gay people getting hitched.

Racist is racist, no matter what color you paint it. It's always sickening.

The decline of American morals isn't black people getting equal treatment under the law. It's not gay people getting equal treatment under the law. The decline is when we look at people that are born citizens and tell them that they are not equal to others that were born citizens. I don't care what spin you want to put on it. It's the exact same thing.

It's kind of sad when the Klan is more honest than the rest of us. At least the Klan admits it's racist.


whtevr30 2 years, 11 months ago

Seriously people.... I don't understand what you are so afraid of. What's the big deal if gays and lesbians are insured. They want the right to take care of their family, their loved ones. You wont let them get married so, they have to deal with domestic partner benefits. If allowed to marry there would be no problem.They would be the same! On that note, they are the same as the rest of you. They live, love, breath, bleed, and die. We are all human. They don't want to marry animals or other family members and they certainly don't want 5 wives. They just want to live life with the same protection of civil rights. They want to be happy with no worries that one of them is going to die and that they are going to lose their house and or never get the death benefits married people are entitled to. They want to be able to take care of each other if they are ill in a hospital or need to go to the doctor. I am personally in a committed relationship for over 14 years, my partner & I have children that are very well adjusted, they have good grades and they are active in sports and music. In my opinion they are a lot better then some of their friends who have straight parents, or divorced parents or even parents that stay together but hate each other and spend no time with their kids. I was raised by straight people with wonderful values. I still have those values, they aren't erased by being gay, I raise my family with the same values that I was taught. With great moral values and the added family value of loving whoever you love. You don't know who your soul mate is until you meet them be it a man or a woman. As for all you who keep talking about your tax dollars. My tax dollars go to your heterosexual insurance coverage so why is it different. Let the county give benefits to those in committed relationship, it will save us tax dollars. At least we aren't paying for their insurance through welfare like so many others. Who are any of us to judge? If you don't like gay marriage or domestic benefits don't get one but don't judge people for trying to take responsibility for their loved ones.


kueddie 2 years, 11 months ago

Totally agree with KSFBCOACH............Sad day in Lawrence. Lawrence should enact this to keep employees from leaving the area for companies that offer it? I DONT THINK SO! Just add more debt and lower our values........with Obama we all are heading down the road to total socializism.


lamb 2 years, 11 months ago

I am against spending my tax dollars on this.


Timothy Eugene 2 years, 11 months ago

The homosexual agenda rejoices! More socialism at work, more wasted tax dollars, more decline in American values and morals, more DEBT, and the continued destruction of America. Welcome to the United Socialist States of America....which also won't last long because it will be bankrupt. "The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other peoples money." ~ quote attributed to Margaret Thatcher.


betti81 2 years, 11 months ago

I hope this happens. And, in order to add a 'domestic partner' at the state level, I would have had to sign a legal document. That meant if we broke up, it was a legal proceeding. Didn't sign that document and it's a good thing.


Richard Payton 2 years, 11 months ago

Will domestic partners not be covered by the Federal health insurance plan that President Obama is trying to get approved?


Eybea Opiner 2 years, 11 months ago

"Sarah Plinsky, assistant county administrator, said each employee covered under the county’s insurance costs $4,380 annually. Under this year’s plan, a single employee pays $29 per month while the county has a cost of $543 per month."

This arithmatic doesn't work. Employee's share of $29 plus the county's share of $543 equals $572. For 12 months that amounts to $6864, not $4380. What's the truth?

Is there a legal document that defines and establishes a "Domestic Partner?" If not, what is to stop anyone from adding a room mate to the insurance? Finally, it looks like we should be asking all employees to pay a greater share of their insurance coverage. Especially if we add domestic partners. We'll need to make up nearly $65K of additional costs per year.


kuhusker 2 years, 11 months ago

Most big companies provide these benefits. It used to be pretty rare but it fairly common now. Companies that don't provide the benefits are at a competitive disadvantage especially in the white collar world and specific industries like tech, media, advertising and legal. However for smaller companies, especially those that do not self-insure, it can be difficult to get underwritten for DP benefits.


bd 2 years, 11 months ago

OK , so I do not need to get married, change girlfriends every year or so and sign them up??so why buy the cow??? If you can get the milk free???

more wasted tax $


DeaconBlue 2 years, 11 months ago

Is my house pal covered also? I'd say partner, but that's too professional sounding. Domestic is too homey.

I like pal or buddy better and house because that's what we live in.


dragonwagon2 2 years, 11 months ago

A good progressive move. I hope this would also prompt more businesses in Lawrence to provide coverage for domestic partners. Lawrence Memorial Hospital is one that provides its own insurance but doesn't include domestic partners.


Barclay 2 years, 11 months ago

Fred asks a sound, legal question. How is a domestic partner defined? I do not believe there is a legal definition. I see the abuse of tax payer dollars occuring all over the place. “A lot of private companies are doing this, so on one level we need to do this to retain quality employees to work for the county and for the public,” he said. This is a smokescreen. With unemployment what it is there are many unemployed quality people that would love to move to and work for Douglas County.


Brock Masters 2 years, 11 months ago

How is a domestic partner defined?


jeffreyavans 2 years, 11 months ago

I believe this is correct. I also believe this is the kind of plan that we are likley to end up with, though somewhat less generous as it will be forced on us by our creditors who won't give a hair about healthcare for seniors and the needy. Read "Penny Health Insurance" articles if you dont have insurance.


Kat Christian 2 years, 11 months ago

I have a problem with this...not that these couples may be gay, but that I cannot add my own grandchild, my blood onto my own health insurance policy. That I have a problem with. If they pass this law then they should also add grandchildren living with grandparents who provide 100% support to that child whether or not they have legal full custody. Afterall if domestic partners are not legally "civilally joined" why should they have more rights than a blood relative?


kuhusker 2 years, 11 months ago

Wholeheartedly approve. Good idea and good business sense.


DeMontfort 2 years, 11 months ago

I bet there is a majority on the county commission to approve this. Would be nice to see it be unanimous. And then the city should consider it. Who knew USD497 was so progressive?


Doppleganger 2 years, 11 months ago

The publics tax dollars at work.


Steve Jacob 2 years, 11 months ago

I do like that they waited until late in the evening to announce this.


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