City council approves same-sex partnership benefits - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

City council approves same-sex partnership benefits

Eau Claire (WQOW) - A vote from the Eau Claire City Council changes the way health insurance is offered for city employees in a same-sex partnership.

Tuesday night the council approved health insurance for partners of employees.

The vote was 10-to-1 in favor of approval.  Right now, city employees in a same-sex partnership are not offered the option of family insurance, only an individual plan.  What this does now, is provide another option, a family plan for couples.

The vote came after 90 minutes of a presentation, questions and a discussion.  The discussion was mainly focused on what the increased costs could bring, if a larger pool of people was to be added to those receiving health insurance.  The cost for the city to add an additional plan can be anywhere between about four to nine thousand dollars.  Until people come forward to add their partner, is it unclear what the exact figure will be.

"In terms of cost we heard that it's really not going to blow a hole in the budget, by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, the reality is we could be spending less on health care in this coming year than we have in have in the past year. That's possible, because we have so much turnover and people go in and out of the plan" says city council member Andrew Werthmann. 

Detective Clay Wanta, of the Eau Claire Police Department says, "This means to me that my partner and I can now open enroll through the city. It was difficult decision for me to come out and do this. I am openly gay, it took me a long time to get to that point but I think it has been a positive thing for employees that may not be open with it." 

The city will follow the state registry definition for those who are covered. 

When it came down the final decision, many council members said they only felt this was the fair thing to do. 

The city will finalize some of the details in the next few weeks.  Employees can open enroll into the plan in June.

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