Monday, February 10, 2014

A second Nebraska county extends health benefits
to gay spouses despite 'no' votes of Commissioners Don Kelly and Jim Warren

Sarpy County commissioners Don Kelly (left) and Jim Warren,
respectively, of Districts 1 and 5
Emily Nohr of the Omaha World-Herald reported that Sarpy County voted 3-2 Tuesday, Jan. 29th to extend health insurance benefits to spouses of gay employees who live in Nebraska but were legally married in another state.
     Although Sarpy County HR Director Karen Buche estimated that 10 or fewer employees of 450 covered county emplyees would use the benefits, board members Don Kelly and Jim Warren nevertheless voted against extending the benefits.
     Warren said they were being asked to approved a contract issue with "no concept" of what the budget impact was.
     Kelly piled on, saying responsible people don't make decisions without knowing the cost.
     Both questioned the constitutionality of the extension, even though board member Tom Richards had already asked Deputy County Attorney Bonnie Moore if the measure was unconstitutional, to which Moore replied  no, adding that the Nebraska's constitution isn't so far reaching as to invalidate a contract between Sarpy County and Blue Cross Blue Shield.
     The move follows the actions last December 3rd of Nebraska's most populous county, Douglas, to extend insurance benefits to gay spouses on a 7-1 vote with Clare Duda the only board member to resist the change.

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