Deadline changed for Suffolk employee health-sharing

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The Suffolk Legislature approved an emergency resolution last week that rolled back by two months to Jan. 1 the effective date for newly hired county patronage appointees to begin paying a 15-percent share of health insurance costs.

Backers say the measure was needed because the Nov. 1 effective date for civil service-exempt appointees differed from the Jan. 1 date in the agreement with county unions.

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Comptroller Joseph Sawickis office said that only three appointees will benefit, as of last week: Joseph Hegelmann, former Islip Democratic chairman, and Islip Republican Patricia Montanino -- both of whom started work as assistant elections clerks at the Suffolk Board of Elections making $43,926 -- and Jason Correa, who works as a $41,000-a-year GOP legislative aide.

Despite the later starting date, County Executive Steve Bellone, fulfilling a commitment in his State of the County message, has already begun voluntarily paying a share of his health premium costs. He sent a check to the county for $412.62 last week to cover both November and December. By next year, deductions will come out of Bellones paycheck and will total $2,475 of his annual $16,500 health insurance cost. Bellone began payments after his wife, Tracey, returned to work as an $89,000-a-year Babylon deputy parks commissioner.

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