Republican Governor Terry Branstad says it’s time for legislators to pay for a portion of their health insurance premiums. “I think it’s time they lead instead of follow,” Branstad says.
Branstad had been pressing the state employee unions to agree that state workers should pay 20-percent of the cost of their insurance premiums, but Branstad lost that argument in the new contract with AFSCME — the union that represents 20,000 state workers.
Branstad’s now setting his sights on legislators. “Some legislators have said, ‘Well, we’ll follow whatever this contract is,’ and we’re saying, ‘Maybe it’s time to lead,'” Branstad says.
“The rest of the country is ahead of us. Federal employees are paying 25 percent. Most other states — I think we’re one of only six states where they’re paying nothing and we have a lot of legislators that are paying nothing.”
Since 2009, Republicans in the House have voted nine times to require state workers to pay 20-percent of their health care premiums, but while they have the authority to do so, the policy has never been imposed on legislators themselves. Just a handful of the 150 members of the Iowa General Assembly voluntarily write a check to the state to cover their health care premiums costs.