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Should RI lawmakers help pay for their health insurance?

February 15, 2011

On Wednesday, the House Finance Committee will review a bill requiring members of the RI General Assembly to pay 20% of their health insurance premiums.  A proposal in the Senate would charge them 15%.

The idea is if state employees have to pay for their health insurance, so should elected officials.  Currently, lawmakers get their insurance for free,  but many volunteer a contribution, ranging from 5% to 20% of the cost.  Representative Grace Diaz, who has very limited income, is the only member that doesn’t pay for her insurance.

The free health care is part of a constitutional amendment approved by the voters to encourage a more economically diverse crowd on Smith Hill by giving  lawmakers a small salary and benefits instead of a pension and a stipend.

What do you think?  Should Senators and Representatives pay their way?  Or are the benefits a form of  payment for their public service?  Weigh in here!

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