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Archive for Thursday, April 28, 2011

Domestic partner benefits plan gets early support from Douglas County Commission

Douglas County commissioners Nancy Thellman, Jim Flory and Mike Gaughan discuss adding domestic partner benefits to the county's health insurance coverage during their meeting Wednesday, April 27, 2011.

Douglas County commissioners Nancy Thellman, Jim Flory and Mike Gaughan discuss adding domestic partner benefits to the county's health insurance coverage during their meeting Wednesday, April 27, 2011.

April 28, 2011

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Joseph Jarvis decided what job he would accept after he graduated from Kansas University’s School of Law largely based on the company’s health care and anti-discrimination policies.

Despite being a sixth-generation Kansan, Jarvis decided he will head to a Missouri-based firm for its inclusion of domestic partners in its insurance policy and anti-discrimination policy. Jarvis will be able to put his same-sex partner on his health insurance.

A majority of Douglas County commissioners Wednesday expressed support for a similar plan in this county, which would extend coverage to domestic partners under the county’s plan. Partners will have to provide documentation to show they are in a committed relationship, though the county has not determined what it will require.

The plan would benefit both same-sex and heterosexual partners who aren’t married.

Commissioner Mike Gaughan, who originally brought up the issue, and Commissioner Nancy Thellman both supported the idea after hearing public comment for and against.

“This issue is a priority for some, and for some it’s a core value,” Thellman said. “The core value is about fundamental fairness to all people, whether they’re in the private sector or the public sector. I’ve never been prouder of any place I’ve worked for than this county.”

Commissioner Jim Flory was not in favor of the plan, largely for budgetary reasons. He argued that the commission was forced to cut the county’s 2011 budget, but adding people to the county’s insurance coverage would only increase costs.

The county’s stop-loss coverage pays up to $175,000 of medical expenses per person, and Flory argued that adding even six people to the plan could conceivably put the county responsible for $1 million of expenses. However, in the past few years, few employees have hit that limit.

“A private company is using their own money. We in government, when we make decisions, are using other people’s money,” Flory said.

John McFarland, Lawrence resident, also spoke against adding additional people onto the plan, saying people could exploit the system to become domestic partners if they were roommates or friends. He said the change was against the institution of marriage and also used tax money inappropriately.

“Do you have $60,000 to give away?” he asked the commission.

While no decision was officially made Wednesday, county employees hope to get the health care plan together for presentation at next week’s meeting. The county commissioners will vote to approve or deny that plan.

Comments

Benjamin Roberts 3 years, 8 months ago

If passed what will the definition of "domestic partner" be? Will it be limited to same-sex relationships? Will opposite-sex couples, living in the same household, be considered a domestic partnership? What if there is more than one domestic partner? More of a board of directors rather than a partnership.

This idea should open up a whole venue of possibilities.

ivalueamerica 3 years, 8 months ago

no it won´t this question has been asked and answered thousands of times across the country without any problem.

Your hysteria aside, this is a very routine action all across the country and around the world.

ivalueamerica 3 years, 8 months ago

I have taken your statement and shown where they were false. You just troll and follow me and post this dribble without offering anything to support you.

That makes you are troll, a dishonest, dishonorable troll, and offer nothing of value to the debate.

Joseph Jarvis 3 years, 8 months ago

If passed what will the definition of "domestic partner" be?

County staff floated draft statements for an affidavit that would establish the DP. Staff said it reserved the right to tweak them after more thorough review.

• Both persons are at least 18 years of age • Both persons have a common residence, and share living expenses • Both persons are in a committed, exclusive relationship in existence for longer than six months
• Neither person is married to someone else or is a member of another domestic partnership • Both persons are not related by blood in any way that would prevent them from being married to each other in this State • Both persons are capable of consenting to the domestic partnership

Will it be limited to same-sex relationships? Will opposite-sex couples, living in the same household, be considered a domestic partnership?

While targeted at equalizing treatment for same-sex couples who cannot legally marry, it will be available to opposite-sex couples as well. County staff concluded that would prevent someone from accusing the county of discrimination.

What if there is more than one domestic partner? More of a board of directors rather than a partnership. This idea should open up a whole venue of possibilities.

Commissioners did not authorize extending benefits to a larger set of people. Commissioner Flory did direct county staff to investigate how non-insurance benefits like medical/bereavement leave could affect relationships where there was no legal connection but a moral one, e.g., grandparents raising grandchildren.

More generally, posts like this are textbook FUD--fear, uncertainty, doubt. As someone else said, Kansas is late to the table on this. Lots of other employers do DP benefits successfully and without issue.

Liberty275 3 years, 8 months ago

"Both persons are at least 18 years of age "

In kansas you can marry at 16 can't you?

"Both persons have a common residence, and share living expenses "

Lots of wives/husbands live apart from one another.

"Both persons are in a committed, exclusive relationship"

So government demands an "exclusive" relationship. I'm glad I'm married so the government can't tell me which other consenting adults I can do dirty things with.

Sounds like a pretty discriminatory set of criteria to me.

gr 3 years, 8 months ago

"Both persons are not related by blood in any way that would prevent them from being married to each other in this State " Why?

As far as, preventing them from being married to each other in this State, being the same sex should be taken into consideration. Otherwise, why should being related prevent them from being domestic partners? I mean, it's not like it's going to prevent or not prevent any "bad things".

"Commissioners did not authorize extending benefits to a larger set of people. "

Why not? Isn't that discriminatory of transsexuals with more open minds? Why should they be forced to choose between one? Nothing but discrimination and the county will be open to lawsuits.

Liberty275 3 years, 8 months ago

"Why not? Isn't that discriminatory of transsexuals with more open minds? Why should they be forced to choose between one?"

People should be allowed several domestic partners per predilection/orientation. That's only fair to Mormons that want a little piece of all the action.

Equality, O my brothers!!!

dragonwagon2 3 years, 8 months ago

There is every possibility that all of your questions can be answered by modeling this change after those used by employers who are already more progressive.

Way to go Douglas County - this consideration is appreciated. This is a provision that more employers need to adopt - hopefully this will be the start of change in Lawrence.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 8 months ago

“A private company is using their own money. We in government, when we make decisions, are using other people’s money,” Flory said.


I suppose this means that Flory would favor firing all county employees and replace them with illegal immigrants that they could pay for less than the minimum wage, with no benefits. That'd save a bundle of "other people's money."

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 8 months ago

A little, but mostly just following that ideological slippery slope to its inevitable conclusion.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 8 months ago

If the current class warfare offensive by Republicans is successful, the race to the bottom will accelerate, and what I described will come true, even if the crap jobs are filled by Jane and John rather than Juana and Juan.

bd 3 years, 8 months ago

They will not let it happen , because it will be voted down!

DRsmith 3 years, 8 months ago

Something like this voted down in Lawrence? No way, maybe everywhere esle in KS but not Lawrence.

jafs 3 years, 8 months ago

That's fine, as long as we put all other tax expenditures on the ballot as well.

I'd love to vote against tax abatements, etc. but I don't get the chance to do so.

kuhusker 3 years, 8 months ago

Remember, Douglas County was the only county in Kansas that voted in FAVOR of same-sex marriage back when the state amendment was on the ballot in 2005.

Beavis4you 3 years, 8 months ago

God designed men and women (physically) to be the ones to procreate and keep alive his dream. When Satan entered Eve ate the apple and sin was born. I don't care how a person lives their life, but it shouldn't affect the way things are run. People who commit sins as such are as loved by God as us all are, it's just not my idea of how he wanted us to behave.

Cai 3 years, 8 months ago

although you're allowed to have that viewpoint;

would that viewpoint prevent you from allowing these couples to have health insurance in the same way that officially married couples do?

Cai 3 years, 8 months ago

I meant more in a voting position. You can have an opinion for religious reasons and yet still respect the civil rights of other people to 'live in sin.'

... at least in theory.

danmoore 3 years, 8 months ago

Don't think he wanted us to engage in killing either but the history of religion is littered with wars fought over faith. If God is who you think he is I think he would take homosexuality over killing anyday.

somedude20 3 years, 8 months ago

I need to see "God's" birth certificate to make sure he was born in this galaxy and that he is legally allowed to govern us and not an imposter from the Andromeda galaxy

somedude20 3 years, 8 months ago

I like it when the "crazy" call me crazy as it lets me know that I am still sane.

jafs 3 years, 8 months ago

"Looney" is a short form of "lunatic", which means crazy.

Liberty275 3 years, 8 months ago

God has a dream? You'd think omnipotence would alleviate the need for such things.

Also, huh,huh, huh... you said "entered".

LeBo 3 years, 8 months ago

This is not the idea of universal healthcare. During any economy this is not a moral use of public funds. Take that money and reduce child copays for real families.

Ralph Reed 3 years, 8 months ago

@LeBo Read this from the article above, "The plan would benefit both same-sex and heterosexual partners who aren’t married."


So, you're saying that a man and a woman who choose not to get married are to be denied the benefits of putting his/her domestic partner on their family-plan health insurance. By your implicit definition, that couple is not a real family.

In essence do you want to penalize all couples who choose not to get married, or simply those of which you do not approve (i.e.: same-sex couples if I understand you correctly). You do realize, don't you, that your desire to penalize domestic partners can and does often create an undue financial burden.

pocket_of_sunshine 3 years, 8 months ago

And what exactly is a "real" family? Is it the man and woman who have both been married multiple times before and have multiple children with many different people, the ones that neither work and are both addicts and leave their children to fend for themselves? Is that a "real" family? Why then can't it also be the two men down the street that have been together for 15 yrs, have successful careers, and now want to adopt a child? Why can't they be included in your "real" family? What if that couple has a child? Does their child not get reduced copays, under your idea, because they are not a "real" family? Does that child not belong to a "real" family, one with two loving parents and happy home? What about the hetero couple that has been together for 10 years, the one that has children but aren't married because of personal choices? Are they not a "real" family?

lamb 3 years, 8 months ago

I am against this. We do not need to add to our tax burden.

ivalueamerica 3 years, 8 months ago

What if you check your facts and find out that this actually saves money by increasing productivity, worker moral and lowers turnover.

ivalueamerica 3 years, 8 months ago

Yes, check with the 70%+ of the fortune 500 companies, they have all vetted this issue and found the same thing.

You can pretend it is not the case, but you are the proverbial ostrich with your head in the sand pretending not to see anything you do not want to see.

And when you do that, no amount of proof will convince you.

I would respect you more if you just admitted you were a bigot and do not want gay people to have equal rights. At least then you would be honest.

jessanddaron 3 years, 8 months ago

Correct, Lamb, because tax burdens are the issue here not civil rights of our fellow Americans. Way to turn this into a fiscal issue.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 8 months ago

If we had single-payer/medicare for all, the county wouldn't need to provide healthcare benefits for any of their employees, and taxes would go down accordingly.

But I understand that for you ideological purity takes precedence over fiscal good sense.

Ralph Reed 3 years, 8 months ago

"But I understand that for you ideological purity takes precedence over fiscal good sense."

like

jafs 3 years, 8 months ago

But we don't have that, and are extremely unlikely to have it, so the question is valid - if we increase expenditures of county revenues, then they must increase those revenues to match.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 8 months ago

But if you favor a healthcare system that is the most expensive and least efficient in the entire world exclusively because of a desire to maintain ideological purity, as the coach does, the question loses almost all validity.

jafs 3 years, 8 months ago

I don't judge a question by who asks it.

If the county is going to pay more money out, then they'll need more money coming in, no?

ylime3499 3 years, 8 months ago

I like this idea. As someone in a domestic partnership, heterosexual for those who care, this would be very helpful! We've been living together in the house we bought for almost five years now, and that's where I think the definition could use a little help. 6 months is nothing... how about 1-2 years? Also what about insurance companies excepting this? I would not mind paying from my own pocket, but my current insurance through work will not count him/my partner, as a “spouse” or dependent. I understand nothing is set in stone, but just my two cents.

MomSW 3 years, 8 months ago

This would be great for families and people like me. My partner and I both work full-time and are both in school part-time, him on his Bachelors and I on my Masters. His work offers no benefits. We have four children combined, one of whom is ours, and my insurance will only cover my two children. We are transitioning off of Social Services and medicaid now that I am employed after recieving my Bachelors but are unable to fully transition because I cannot insure my partners two children on my insurance.

MomSW 3 years, 8 months ago

Yes, It would be for couples in long term committed relationships, without regard for sexual orientation. ie Male w/Male, Female/Female, Female/Male, Trans/Male, Trans/Female, etc.

md 3 years, 8 months ago

So we paid for your degree and now you want us to pay for your health care.

MomSW 3 years, 8 months ago

md, We are paying for our own education as much as anybody else. Oh, wait...um...nope, I do not see any checks from md in my bank ledger. I guess your not paying for my education.

I am working, in a positions relevant to my degree, making sufficient enough money to support my family. I am entitled to medical benefits through my employer, as are my children. If I went to the courthouse and got married tomorrow, the five people receiving medical coverage under my policy at that time, would be the same five people receiving benefits under the domestic partnership plan.

If your concerned about where you money is going and to whom, may I suggest you be a part of a sustainable solution and not a part of the problem.

md 3 years, 8 months ago

My money does pay for the social services you used.

jafs 3 years, 8 months ago

Yes.

And, would you rather continue to pay that ad infinitum, or pay for things which will help people transition out of needing those services?

hornhunter 3 years, 8 months ago

The way I see it if you choose this kind of so called relationship, you should also be able to take care of the problems that go along with it. This is a sickness that I or we should not have to pay for. This is becoming one big sick world to allow this to happen.

nativeson 3 years, 8 months ago

This issue needs to be considered from a standpoint of cost and administration, not the larger social issues. It will be difficult to quantify the real cost of adding this benefit. Aside from the increase in claims due to expansion of covered lives, there is also the issue of administration that has not even been considered in this dialog.

It will fall upon the County staff to define the term "domestic partner" as well as ensure that the term is being appropriately followed by the employee population. No third-party administrator will take on this responsibility. This will continue to put ongoing pressure on administrative staff that is already stretched thin as budgets are tightened.

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