Murray approves health insurance coverage for domestic partners of town employees

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 July 2021 at 8:38 am

Additional cost will be paid 100 percent from employees

MURRAY — The Murray Town Board on Monday voted to expand the town’s health insurance policy to include domestic partners of employees. However, the cost of adding the partners to the health insurance will be 100 percent funded by the employees with domestic partners.

That differs from the health insurance plan for employees with spouses, where the employees pay 15 percent of the cost, which is $1,078.12 per month ($12,937.44 per year) for a two-person plan.

Town officials said Murray is the first town in Orleans County to include domestic partners in the health insurance.

Two Councilman Paul Hendel urged the board to consider a domestic partner like a spouse.

“This is the 21st Century,” Hendel said during Monday’s board meeting. “People are doing things different than in the 1950s.”

Councilman Lloyd Christ said he favored offering the health insurance to domestic partners, but didn’t want taxpayer dollars going towards the coverage.

The state and health insurance providers allow domestic partners to be included in the coverage. Murray said the employee will need to show proof of a domestic partner, who can be the same or the opposite sex. Some factors to be considered will include joint residency and length of relationship. A blood relative won’t be considered as a domestic partner.

Town Supervisor Joe Sidonio said the issue has been widely debated around town in recent months. He said it is an “emotional topic.”

An employee with a domestic partner on the town’s health insurance plan will need to periodically provide proof of the relationship. The town also needs to be notified if the relationship ends so the coverage can be discontinued for the partner.

Town officials are having the cost of the plan come from the employee so the town isn’t pursuing the payment from the partner.

“The town shouldn’t be chasing after money from someone who doesn’t work for us,” said Councilman Michael Mele.

With the payment coming from the employee, the town can be assured of the money in case the relationship ends and the town isn’t immediately notified to discontinue coverage.

Kellie Gregoire, a resident, spoke in favor of the town offering the health insurance to a domestic partner, but not having the town pay towards the insurance for the partner. Gregoire said marriage is a legally binding agreement.

Louise Passarell, the town assessor, said many of the domestic partners have been in relationships for years and those relationships shouldn’t be viewed as “transient.”