[Vision2020] Domestic-Partner Benefits Back on Table

Tom Hansen thansen at moscow.com
Wed Dec 12 06:36:05 PST 2007

Rom the December 11, 2007 edition of the Moscow-Pullman Daily News -


Domestic-partner benefits back on table
Administrative Committee forwards discussion to City Council 

By Tara Roberts, Daily News staff writer

Tuesday, December 11, 2007 - Page Updated at 12:00:00 AM

Moscow city employees with nontraditional families may soon be offered
health insurance for their partners and partners' dependents.

Mayor Nancy Chaney said she's hoped to offer insurance for domestic partners
since her election.

"I think it's just very much in keeping with Moscow being an inclusive
city," she said.

Until recently, the city's insurance carrier, Regence Blue Shield of Idaho,
did not offer domestic partner benefits.

The city's insurance agents, Chad Murray and Greg Helbling of Helbling
Employee Benefit Consulting, presented the newly available plan at Monday's
Administrative Committee meeting. The committee decided to forward the
discussion to the City Council for its final meeting of the year Dec. 17.

"All the rules that apply to spouses currently as far as it goes with
insurance will apply to domestic partners" if the city selects the plan,
Murray said.

The city must first decide how to define "domestic partner," Helbling said.
He handed out several options used by other organizations that include
requirements regarding finances and living situation.

Helbling said including domestic partners will cause a minimal increase to
the city's insurance plan. If a large claim from a domestic partner came up,
it would be by chance, as would a large claim from any other person covered
by the city's insurance.

"It will not affect existing employees' premiums," Chaney said.

City Council and administrative committee member Kit Craine asked how many
people this could potentially add to the city's plan.

Moscow Human Resources Director Leslie Moss said there is no way to tell.
Employees' lives frequently change by divorce, marriage and having children,
so the numbers always fluctuate.

She added after the meeting that no employees have approached her to say
they would like the plan. The request for it was from the mayor.

There is a chance no one will sign up, Moss said.

The city of Pullman's insurance company currently offers domestic partner
benefits. Pullman Human Resources Manager Karen Sires said only a few
employees have added domestic partners.

There has been some cost to the city, "but it's not insurmountable because
we don't have very many," Sires said.

Chaney said offering the benefits is worth it, even if no one immediately
uses them.

City Supervisor Gary Riedner said the costs of adding the plan should be
part of the discussion, but the city does not ask its employees economic

Riedner also said he wanted to clarify that "this is not a same-sex
initiative, this is a domestic partners initiative."

Craine said she supports the plan because everyone should have the
opportunity to be insured.

Lamar said offering benefits for domestic partners fits with the city's
nondiscrimination policy.

"I feel very strongly that insurance coverage is a really important way to
make sure that we attract good employees to our businesses," he said.


>From August 8, 2007 . . .

Who Dat?

Seeya round town, Moscow.

Tom Hansen
Moscow, Idaho

"Gays and lesbians stood up for civil rights in Montgomery, Selma, in
Albany, Georgia and St. Augustine, Florida, and many other campaigns of the
Civil Rights Movement.  Many of these courageous men and women were fighting
for my freedom at a time when they could find few voices for their own, and
I salute their contributions."

- Coretta Scott King (March 30, 1998)

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