Archive for Thursday, May 5, 2011

Douglas County Commission approves domestic partner benefits plan

May 5, 2011

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County commissioners Wednesday approved a new county health insurance plan that includes domestic partner benefit coverage.

Commissioner Jim Flory, who voted against the plan because of the extension, said there were many other relationships that weren’t covered under the plan, including grandparents taking care of grandchildren, a sibling caring for another sibling and a person caring for a best friend. Commissioner Mike Gaughan, who originally suggested the change, said the plan was necessary for equality.

“This is the one relationship that the state has precluded loved ones from accessing the equal rights,” Gaughan said.

A number of residents spoke in favor of the plan again at Wednesday’s meeting, while the Rev. Leo Barbee Jr. spoke against it.

“It is a moral decision, whether you like it or not. We’re saying that domestic partners are equal to families,” he said.

Commissioners Gaughan and Nancy Thellman voted in favor of the plan, which also extended coverage to employees’ dependents under the age of 26 and eliminated the lifetime benefit maximum.

Comments

deec 4 years ago

“It is a moral decision, whether you like it or not. We’re saying that domestic partners are equal to families,” he said." Well, yeah. 'Cause they are.

deec 4 years ago

Family: a group of individuals living under one roof and usually under one head : household 2 a : a group of persons of common ancestry : clan b : a people or group of peoples regarded as deriving from a common stock : race 3 a : a group of people united by certain convictions or a common affiliation http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/family Nope, don't see the words "married" or "heterosexual" anywhere.

Erin Graham 4 years ago

What a positive step in the right direction for once! I'd like to read the full literature... it'd be nice to see the rest of the mentioned relationships covered, but this is a huge step forward for a county in a state that's otherwise regressing back to the dark ages. Way to go, commissioners!

kansanjayhawk 4 years ago

This is a huge slap in the face to all Kansas families... this is an attempt to garner support from the liberal homosexuals. Traditional family values are once again under attack by unnatural and ungodly people who don't even understand why we desire to protect the family. Read your Bible and repent from what is clearly a sin and wicked in God's eyes.

jafs 4 years ago

Protect the family from what exactly?

Infidelity and divorce rates are quite high among heterosexuals, and have nothing to do with gay folks.

Hudson Luce 4 years ago

You're obviously living in the wrong place. There are undoubtedly houses for sale in Westboro, a suburb of Topeka - and there's even a church just for you - the Westboro Baptist Church, which hosts many trips and tours...

pace 4 years ago

, it is a testament that not all families are the same but should have the same rights. I have a husband and children but that is my family, it does not insult my family if someone's family is different. Protect your bias, but don't use my family as your cover. I won't stand for it. You can claim it harms your family, your sensibilities and offer your reason but leave such garbage reasoning off my family. Your claim to my family ends now. You never had the right to use my family to support your prejudice.

rockchalker52 4 years ago

I sense more mischief & sarcasm with this comment than any actual convictions.

cato_the_elder 4 years ago

If I work for Douglas County, can I now get our dog covered under our family health insurance policy? She's part of our family, you know.

Keith 4 years ago

Having a dog as a domestic partner sounds about right for you.

cato_the_elder 4 years ago

Thank you, but I don't have a "domestic partner."

Keith 4 years ago

I see, so you either didn't read or didn't understand the article when you posted your first question.

Keith 4 years ago

I'm beginning to suspect you're not even Cato the Elder.

Ralph Reed 4 years ago

You're a birther too, aren't you Cato.

ivalueamerica 4 years ago

Since you clearly do not understand the difference between 2 consenting adults and an adult and an animal, you have so many more problems in your life than the county treating its gay and lesbian employees equally.

cato_the_elder 4 years ago

Wrong. You're clearly the one who's screwed up.

Kirk Larson 4 years ago

"Nu-uh, you are!" Great argument.

cato_the_elder 4 years ago

The statement to which I was responding speaks for itself.

therxbandit 4 years ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

ivalueamerica 4 years ago

You mean the response to the ignorant suggestion that a commuted adult couple are like a human and a pet?

You keep me laughing all the time, thanks for that.

cato_the_elder 4 years ago

A "commuted" adult couple? Seems to me that whoever typed that is indeed ignorant.

ivalueamerica 4 years ago

Once again, you can not really argue the point, so you divert..this time to an obvious typo.

You are without any value whatsoever to the debate.

Liberty275 4 years ago

Mormons can be consenting adults. I'd love to see the county paying the insurance for some deputy and his 12 wives, two of which would be sisters and two a mother/daughter combo. That would be epic.

You wouldn't want to value some consenting adult Americans less because you don't approve of their lifestyle would you?

Hudson Luce 4 years ago

Twelve wives under the same roof? the deputy must live in interesting times...

kansanjayhawk 4 years ago

This is direct attack against the family and moral Kansans understand that. This is an immoral and destructive act by a unit of government carrying water for the radical homosexual agenda.

jafs 4 years ago

What agenda is that exactly?

I assume you mean their desire to live meaningful lives and have committed relationships that are recognized by the state?

pace 4 years ago

No, it is not a direct attack against family. It is direct support of the family, all kinds. If your homophobia, or racism, or prejudice or stupidity makes you want to define a family as something that does not include persons because of sexual identity, race, faith you are attacking "family" demeaning family to serve a baser self.

AlexTJ 4 years ago

Off topic, but related- What is with all the dragging of race into EVERYTHING lately? I don't see a single mention of race anywhere above this post? Come on people!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years ago

You probably think that domestic partners deserve the same fate as feral pigs, right, cato?

cato_the_elder 4 years ago

No, Bozo. Sorry to disappoint you.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years ago

So you don't want to kill them, you merely want to judge and disrespect them, and deny them equal treatment and benefits.

cato_the_elder 4 years ago

Bozo, it seems quite clear that "domestic partners" includes both heterosexuals and homosexuals. Am I wrong?

somedude20 4 years ago

Just because the dog says "woof" does not mean the dog is giving consent

verity 4 years ago

Good thing I didn't have coffee in my mouth when I read that!

parrothead8 4 years ago

The article talks about domestic partners, which are the same as spouses. The only reason they are not referred to using the same word is because of a piece of paper. Domestic partners carry on the same relationships in every other aspect as "spouses." Using a dog as an analogy in this situation is ridiculous.

However, I don't want to discriminate. If you live with your dog as a spouse, and your dog provides you with all the same physical, emotional, and financial benefits as a human spouse, then yes, I agree your dog should be covered.

Beth Bird 4 years ago

I wish there was a "like" button on this! :)

starkm 3 years, 8 months ago

I may be 4 months late commenting, but "DITTO!!!" Well said Parrothead08!!!

Joseph Jarvis 4 years ago

Thanks for comparing my partner to a dog. If we were your neighbors, would you ever walk over to our porch and say something like that? When people sit behind a glowing screen, posting anonymously, civility flies out the window.

dragonwagon2 4 years ago

Good move and yes, domestic partners ARE family.

nativeson 4 years ago

This decision will have an unknown cost impact on the self-insured plan for the County. Nationally, statistics indicate that most domestic partner relationships are two-income with access to health care by both partners. So, it is likely that those who are added will be people who unfortunately do not have other alternatives.

This also places County staff in the position of monitoring affidavits that will be used to establish coverage. These are not binding documents, and the potential for fraud is siginificant. The County will need to decide how closely they chose to audit these statements. Have they considered the administrative cost?

I would like to see many bigger health care issues resolved. However, every taxpayer in Douglas County will pay higher taxes as a result of this policy. I would expect health care costs for County employees to growth at a double-digit rate over the next year as a result of expanded coverage.

This County Commission and the former group has seen the mill levy grow from 30 mills in 2007 to just under 36 mills in 2010. A 20% growth in the mill over 4 years. How many more costs will be added before this County Commission decides to practice fiscal restraint?

parrothead8 4 years ago

If "statistics indicate that most domestic partner relationships are two-income with access to health care by both partners," how is it "likely that those who are added will be people who unfortunately do not have other alternatives?"

Don't the statistics you cite mean just the opposite? If "most domestic partner relationships are two-income with access to health care by both partners," why would people in domestic partner relationships in Douglas County "not have other alternatives?" It seems as if you indicate that "access to health care by both partners" is the norm.

Joseph Jarvis 4 years ago

Regarding costs from plan use, a 2000 study by Hewitt Associates found that same-sex domestic partner benefit claims are no higher than opposite-sex married claims. That study's findings are cited by the Employee Benefits Research Institute, which is a leading think tank in the field. In fact, Hewitt found lower costs than expected because: domestic partners tend to be younger and healthier enrollment is low due to the dual coverage you mentioned any increased risk of AIDS among male same-sex couples appears to be offset by a decreased risk among female same-sex couples female same-sex domestic partners have a very low probability of pregnancy

Regarding affidavits, you say that fraud is likely. Since these are benefits for public employees, you are accusing our friends and neighbors of lying to scam the public, which I think is sad. If we trust them to handle public business, why would we not trust them in their personal representations? Besides, empirically I just haven't heard about enforcement issues. 23 state governments + D.C. offer DP benefits. So do 60% of the Fortune 500 and 85% of the Fortune 100. Not that many states have same-sex marriage or equivalents. So people are using affidavits. Where's the rampant fraud?

Regarding costs, in my mind fairness and cost are separate issues. You have budget $X to cover health care. That should be shared equally among county employees and their families, regardless of sexual orientation. It's not currently, so married families receive more than their fair share via money not paid to LGBT employees' DPs. The co. commission could have reduced benefits a small amount to everyone and extended this at no cost. They just chose to both set an equality policy and not cut the extra service married families already receive. Treating all employees fairly, i.e., DP benefits, did not necessitate increased health care costs, thus they shouldn't be conflated.

Jason Bowers-Chaika 4 years ago

Statistics indicate that the actual cost to the employer is quite minimal. Between 1 and 2% is typical. Reasons for this is that persons who are in Domestic Partnerships have fewer babies. Of the total pool of employees only about 1 to 2% coincidentally will choose to sign up for these benefits. This is a vital step to keep Douglas County competitive in the global job market.

jhawkinsf 4 years ago

Good move. Welcome to the 21st. century.

Frightwig 4 years ago

So a guy can get insurance coverage for his girlfriend but a grandparent cannot get coverage for a grandchild that they're raising?

cato_the_elder 4 years ago

Correct. That's obviously one of the reasons that Jim Flory, who has a whole lot more common sense than either of his his two colleagues, voted against it.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years ago

So if grandparents/grandkids had been included, Flory would have voted for it?

If so, why didn't he ask that they be included?

cato_the_elder 4 years ago

Bozo, it's not surprising that you can't see how ridiculous this is. Where do you stop? Let's just include everyone with whom we live, whether "family" or not, including my dog.

Joseph Jarvis 4 years ago

At last Wednesday's meeting, Flory did ask county staff to investigate it, specifically with regard to non-insurance benefits such as medical/bereavement leave. As far as I can tell, county staff did not prepare anything for this Wed.'s meeting on it. Nothing was in the agenda packet. They may have discussed it orally at this week's meeting, but I couldn't attend.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years ago

BTW, for the moment, such kids are likely eligible for other healthcare benefits not available to adults, although the Republican Party is working hard to eliminate or greatly reduce such benefits (and you no doubt approve.)

Kirk Larson 4 years ago

In some communities, you can include people like grandkids or an elderly dependent parent as a Domestic Partner. They should have done that here. Families come in lots of shapes and sizes.

whtevr30 4 years ago

If you read the county policy it states that you can cover a grandchild if you go to court and get guardianship.

Joseph Jarvis 4 years ago

A grandparent caring for their grandchildren can petition a court for adoption/guardianship. Many just don't elect to.

Gay couples cannot obtain a legally recognized relationship in Kansas, no matter how badly they'd like to.

The situations aren't analogous.

wmathews 4 years ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

whtevr30 4 years ago

Clearly Jim Flory is anti gay and was going to vote no from the start. First he claims the budget can't handle this type of coverage and now he claims it's not fair to everyone. The fact is that these domestic partners are going to have to pay taxes on $365 more per month than any heterosexual family covered in addition to the actual cost of the premium. The employee will pay more, a lot more. The paper didn't publicize that. If Flory would have read his own county personnel policy he would have known before making the comment to LJW that a grandparent caring for their child CAN insure them. Commissioner Jim Flory, who voted against the plan because of the extension said there were many other relationships that were not covered under the plan, including grandparents taking care of grandchildren. While a general grandparent cannot cover their grandchild a grandparent that has been appointed by the court as a guardian can cover their grandchild. It's not hard to get guardianship of a child you are truly caring for and it is actually done quite often in this scenario. His claim came straight from this comment board on the previous article. And I am sorry but his claim is not accurate. If you are anti gay rights you should just own that and not make up bogus reasons to disagree with a policy change.

kansanjayhawk 4 years ago

Not anti-gay just pro-repentance. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved. Repent from your sin of sodomy and follow Christ as one of his disciples. You must forsake the sin, take up your cross and follow me Christ said.

kansanjayhawk 4 years ago

Yes--ignorance of the moral law-- what makes us think we have gotten smarter than God and the thousands of years of Judeo-Christian tradition? That is ignorant.

deec 4 years ago

1 Corinthians 2:11 Matt. 7:1 Matthew 7:3 John 7:24 James 4:11-12

Bob Forer 4 years ago

"Thousands of years if Judeo-Christian tradition?" Try just two thousand years. And the only thing "traditional" about those two thousand years--until recently--has been Christian anti-Semitism, something Christians should be ashamed of rather than bragging about.

Bob Forer 4 years ago

Not a peep yet from Ksjayhawk. Not surprised. Another ignorant Christian coward.

kansanjayhawk 4 years ago

The greatest supporters of Israel in our time are Evangelical Christians.

Bob Forer 4 years ago

I am sure there will only be a small handful of folks added to the county's coverage as a result of this change, and therefore, the cost prohibitive argument is specious, and probably a cover for those anti-gay people who are too ashamed to admit they are bigots.

deec 4 years ago

If cost is truly a factor, stop covering all family members. In fact, cease offering insurance at all. After all, the workers are supposed to be grateful to even have a high-paying job leaching off the public dole, right? end sarcasm.

kansanjayhawk 4 years ago

Traditional family structure is not bigotry. We love the sinner and hate the sin of homosexual conduct. Just like we oppose all sexual sin outside of the bounds of traditional marriage between 1 man and 1 woman. Read your Bible and follow Christ it is the only true answer to this issue. Those who accuse others of being bigots need to make sure they know who is casting the first stone. Maybe you perhaps could be "wrong" on this moral issue and maybe perhaps thousands of years of moral tradition are "right" and absolute. It's the Bible against your opinion and in my view the Bible prevails.

Lisa Rasor 4 years ago

That's right, kansanjayhawk, read your Bible: We should stone to death: women who are not virgins when they marry, anyone who has an extramarital affair, women who cut their hair, anyone who gets a tattoo, people who work on Sunday, anyone who wears garments of mixed fabrics, people who eat pork or shellfish, anyone who gets their fortune told, and people who play with the skin of a pig [that's right--football is actually a sin]. These things are all punishable by death, according to the Bible. So you better get busy.

Joseph Jarvis 4 years ago

@kansanjayhawk: "We love the sinner and hate the sin..."

Love like that housing wanted add I posted last month where the first reply was "STAY THE F**K IN LAWRENCE?"

Or love like that job I got when I was in the closet only to learn I was the second choice candidate because the first was openly gay, offered the job on the condition he go back in the closet while on the clock, and declined?

Or love like that random message someone sent me in March, "gay motherfker that licks ahole who wants to take it up the anal canal?"

Yeah, I've experienced a lot of your love.

Bob Forer 4 years ago

Sorry you have to put up with those a$$holes, Joe.

deec 4 years ago

Then why don't you devote your considerable energy to dealing with adultery and infidelity if you are so concerned with others' "sexual sin"? The bible specifically prohibits adultery and coveting.

Jason Bowers-Chaika 4 years ago

Jesus died for your HOMOPHOBIA! Christ might be the answer for the issue of THE GAY if Jesus actually said a red letter about the subject.

Stop blaming your own bias on God, it pisses her off.

kansanjayhawk 4 years ago

Being opposed to homosexual conduct does not make one a bigot. Name calling and labeling don't seem to be very good measures of a good liberal open mind...

jafs 4 years ago

You can "be opposed" to homosexuality as much as you like.

That doesn't give you the right to deny them equality under the law in this country.

taiwantea 4 years ago

Time for the County to start paying it forward. Way to give back.

MarcoPogo 4 years ago

Domestic partners should have to supply a long form certificate that offers proof that they are gay. Otherwise, we may encounter what is known as the Jack Tripper contingency just milking the system like it was Stanley Roper.

kansanjayhawk 4 years ago

social liberalism like socialism tends to make one dishonest in dealing with all the "social engineering from the left".

Kirk Larson 4 years ago

If it means people who otherwise would be uninsured get coverage and can get care before their conditions get so serious they have to go to the emergency room which is the least cost effective means of delivering health care....then it will reduce your taxes and insurance premiums.

kansanjayhawk 4 years ago

This is a huge slap in the face to all Kansas families... this is an attempt to garner support from the liberal homosexuals. Traditional family values are once again under attack by unnatural and ungodly people who don't even understand why we desire to protect the family. Read your Bible and repent from what is clearly a sin and wicked in God's eyes.

mom_of_three 4 years ago

Not to all kansas families. I don't think my traditional family values are under attack at all.
If someone's partner is covered under their health plan, its not any skin of my nose. it doesn't affect me at all.
But I am happy we are treating everyone the same. Why someone who professes to be a christian wants to treat anyone differently is beyond me? And why they don't attack divorce and adultery with the same vigor is a mystery.

kansanjayhawk 4 years ago

Did you read the article? What about grandparents etc. Why give homosexuals and those living in relationships outside of the marriage bond special rights? Why don't we stick with the traditional values that work? Love one another, pray for one another, uplift one another, and pray that God will grant redemption and forgiveness?

deec 4 years ago

Equal rights are not "special rights." Traditional marriage included allowing wife rape, wife-beating, women and children as property, women with no legal rights to property, etc. Jesus spoke about adultery; he never mentioned homosexuality. Why are you so obsessed with something that was so unimportant to Jesus that he never once mentioned it, yet you ignore adultery and marital infidelity, which he did address?

deec 4 years ago

He also mentioned it as the only acceptable reason for divorce.

kcglowboy 4 years ago

Bravo to the county commission for doing the right thing. And to those who say it will raise taxes, your ignorance can be excused because this article fails to mention what previous articles said: a county survey showed this extension is expected to add about 10 people to the health plan. Ten. In other words, very little economic impact. This was about doing the right thing.

50YearResident 4 years ago

The county is known for under estimating quite often.

ivalueamerica 4 years ago

OMG, Insurance, yes, that leads to a slippery slope..next thing they will want the right to visit each other in the hospital..egads...what a world what a world.

there is only 1 reason to deny equality, that is bigotry and that is neither a Christian nor an American value.

nativeson 4 years ago

The issue regarding cost is legitimate, and I do not believe that any survey can predict the expanded cost. The fact remains it will cost more in claims and administration, so it will result in either more cost for the County or higher employee premiums. The accusation that the argument is specious and a cover for anti-gay sentiments is unfortunate. The County has not counted the cost.

jafs 4 years ago

Of course this will cost more - that's a real part of the question.

How much more, and where the money will come from, we'll find out.

And, it's important to note that it's not only gay couples who would benefit from this change - heterosexual couples who live together and are unmarried will also be eligible.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years ago

If cost is the only consideration, think how much the county could save if they removed all healthcare benefits.

cleifer 4 years ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Richard Heckler 4 years ago

Hey women unfortunately the repub party is NOT made up of Mike Gaughan's === yes that is sad.

Women the republican party CANNOT be trusted with women's issues across the board.

Women,YOU are the largest voting block in America!

  1. "The GOP's stealth plan to redefine rape," Mother Jones, May 3, 2011. http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/04/redefine-rape-hr-3-abortion-stealth

Tue May. 3, 2011

They're doing it again: After jettisoning controversial legislative language narrowing the definition of rape for the purposes of abortion law, House Republicans are attempting a backdoor maneuver to ensure that solely victims of "forcible rape" are eligible for federal funding if they seek abortions.

In February, Republicans drew widespread condemnation for their "forcible rape" proposal, which legal experts said would have excluded statutory rape victims and others from obtaining abortions through Medicaid.

Amidst public outcry and a protest campaign by left-leaning groups, Republicans abandoned the language, which had been included in the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act," a bill the GOP leadership numbered H.R. 3 to signify its high priority to the party.

But while they've amended their legislation, which faces a floor vote in the House on Wednesday, Republicans haven't stopped trying to narrow the already small exception under which federal funding for abortions is permissible.

They've used a sly legislative maneuver to make sure that even though the language of the bill is different, the effect remains the same.

Women the republican party CANNOT be trusted with women's issues across the board.

Women,YOU are the largest voting block in America!

http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/04/redefine-rape-hr-3-abortion-stealth

Flap Doodle 4 years ago

You know what? I'd swear I just saw the very same post by merrill on another thread this morning.

Inspector_Callahan 4 years ago

You Lawrence folks are some sick individuals

Inspector_Callahan 4 years ago

Normalizing homosexuality is insane. If you have problems, keep it to yourself! Don't tell me I should accept it, or give it special attention. I certainly don't think taxpayers should be forced to pay for care-geez!

jayhawklawrence 4 years ago

It is time we ended the politization of the gay rights issue.

If you have a problem with the fact that gay people exist, take it up with God.

Ask him why he created gay people. When you find out, let the rest of us know.

Truthfully, they make good neighbors.

kansanjayhawk 4 years ago

"Gay" is a decision you have made. It is a "lifestyle choice" perhaps you might want to just consider the possibility of change ? Why not give up this choice which many of us consider to be a "sin" and unhealthy life. Maybe having a normal family life would be an advantage to you. Adultry is also a negative choice. One would hope that no argument would be made that the person involved in it cannot stop or change. Think about a life without devotion to homosexuality. Consider that it might be a weakness and a moral failure something to overcome.

jafs 4 years ago

Is "straight" a decision you have made?

deec 4 years ago

Or your choice to be christian

Joseph Jarvis 4 years ago

To recap, here are the verbatim things commenters have said about gays and lesbians:

unnatural, ungodly, sinners, wicked, destructive, radical, like beastiality, like adulters, sick, not normal, people with problems, unhealthy, making a lifestyle choice, weak, moral failures.

Those are the ones that moderators didn't remove.

That a liberal community like Lawrence could produce comments like those proves the need for adding LGBT to nondiscrimination laws.

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