Nevada Panel OKs Domestic Partner Benefits Extension

January 14, 2008 (PLANSPONSOR.COM) - A state of Nevada public employee health insurance panel has extended benefits to domestic partners (including same-sex) and their children, but it's still up to state lawmakers to fund the initiative.

A news report in the Las Vegas Review-Journal said the domestic partner vote was taken by the PublicEmployees’ Benefits Program board, which also approved a separate measure asking Governor Jim Gibbons and the legislature to extend a state-paid insurance subsidy to domestic partners and their children for an estimated $3 million price tag, the news report said.

Currently, the health subsidy is provided to employees to help fund coverage for the employees’ spouses and children, the newspaper said. According to the Review-Journal, Leslie Johnstone, executive officer of the state benefits program, said officials will need several months to draft regulations for the new broader benefits policy.

The rules for the policy must also win approval from the Legislative Commission before they can take effect, the news report said, though it is unlikely the work could be done in time for the 2008-09 fiscal year, Johnstone said.

Because the Legislature would have to approve the cost of expanding the health insurance subsidy, it could not become available until the 2009-10 year, Johnstone told the newspaper.

The original request to include domestic partners in the state health plan came from the Nevada System of Higher Education. University and college presidents complained in mid-2007 that extending benefits to partners is essential to their ability to recruit top professors and administrators, the newspaper said.

Some requirements were approved for the expanded benefit, such as an affidavit that would include a declaration that partners are in a committed relationship. The board also voted against providing health care coverage to partners if they are employed and can get health insurance from their own workplace, the news report said.