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Regional tide runs against free public-employee health care
One labor contract at a time, the practice of government paying all of a civil servant’s health-care premium seems to be going the way of doctors making house calls.
Last week the Suffolk police union agreed to have new officers pay up to 15 percent, with the county’s other new employees also expected to make such contributions for the first time.
In April, Westchester announced a contract by which current Teamster union workers contribute up to 12.5 percent for the first time, while new employees will kick in up to 20 percent.
Late last month, Rockland’s Civil Service Employees Association leaders agreed to have new members pay 15 percent.
And last year, the state CSEA accepted a five-year deal that hiked existing worker contributions for the first time in 30 years. Family coverage for top-grade employees, for example, rose to 31 percent under the pact, according to details provided at the time.
In Nassau, unions held the health-premium line in previous contract rounds, but one source close to the troubled county’s state monitoring board said Friday, “What has been accomplished in Suffolk ... has the potential to change the discussions in Nassau.”
New York City continues to pick up 100 percent of the premium for most employees despite City Hall’s giveback demands. But many of those employees are working under terms of expired agreements that automatically continue under state law. And it seems likely that when a new mayor takes office in 2014, he or she will start a new push, undoubtedly noting that most private employees already contribute to their health premiums.
Uniformed servants are sometimes the last to keep free or nearly-free health insurance. At the New York State Association of Counties, deputy director Mark LaVigne cited a handful of New York counties that as of 2011 paid 100 percent of the premiums just for police, sheriffs, or correction officers.