SENATORS VET HEALTH INSURANCE AGREEMENT, BILLS FORWARDED

Published: Sep 29, 2020

ST. THOMAS- Members of the 33rd Legislature led by Senate President Novelle E. Francis, Jr. convened in the Committee of the Whole at the Capitol Building on Tuesday and received testimony on the Second Renewal of the Group Medical and Dental Health and the First Renewal of the Group Vision Insurance Agreements. Invited testifiers were officials from the Government Employees Service Commission, the Division of Personnel, the Gehring Group, Cigna, and the United Health Care.

“The Affordable Care Act is at stake and there are people who do not qualify to receive Medicaid. There are even instances of which insurance companies are not covering pre-existing health issues,” Sen. Francis said. “Healthcare is a right and not a privilege. We must conduct due diligence to ensure health insurance to the wider community.”

The Government Employee Service Commission Health Insurance Board of Trustees Chairperson and Representative of active employees in the St. Croix District Beverly Joseph noted that the initial negotiations with Cigna yielded a significant increase of 19.9% or $29.1 million. After ongoing negotiations with GESC, the Gehring Group, and Cigna there will be a medical plan increase of an estimated $13.2 million due to the rise in medical premiums. In FY 2020, the health insurance coverage totaled $167.1 million. In comparison to FY 2021, there is an overall increase of 6.5% or $10.9 million for the health insurance coverage inclusive of medical, dental, and vision totaling $177.9 million. Furthermore, Joseph indicated that this is the result of the increases in medical premiums covered by Cigna. Sen. Dwayne DeGraff inquired on the illnesses that attributed to the $10.9 million increase of medical premiums and the financial breakdown for the contributions of a single person vs family health coverage. In response, Joseph stated that there is a rise in diseases and chronic illnesses such as stage 4 cancer, hypertension, heart diseases, musculoskeletal, and diabetes. Health coverage for a single employee totals $12.85 per paycheck vs. $22.47 per family.

Collectively, lawmakers were not in support of the 6.5% increase. Sen. Donna Frett-Gregory stated that revisions to the Health Insurance Plan are necessary. “I cannot support this proposal in this form because of the downturn in our economy, the decline of tourism in the Territory, and the adverse effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Cigna has been a partner with the Government of the Virgin Islands for years and they have to give us a plan that is palatable to government employees.” Echoing that sentiment, Sen. Kurt Vialet stated that there should be a reduction in health insurance, not an increase. “Based on the COVID-19 Pandemic, the number of individuals in the Virgin Islands seeking medical care has declined. Therefore, we are requesting that Cigna Insurance re-consider the $10.9 million increase because presently, the medical premiums are outpacing the payouts,” Sen. Vialet said. Separately, Cigna will provide dental coverage with a renewal premium for 2021 that is capped at a three percent increase with the same benefits offered to government employees. Furthermore, Vision Insurance remains a member-pay-all voluntary plan with no contributions from the Government, according to Joseph.

Rising out of the Committee of the Whole and into Legislative Session, policymakers voted favorably for the FY 2021 budget bills, nominations, and additional measures. All approved items will be forwarded to the Governor for further consideration.

The following nominations were approved:

  • Alphonso Andrews, Esq. to serve as a Judge for the Superior Court of the Virgin Islands for the District of St. Croix
  • Sigrid Tejo-Sprotte, Esq. to serve as a Judge for the Superior Court of the Virgin Islands for the District of St. Thomas-St. John

The following measures received a favorable recommendation:

  • Bill No. 33-0378-An Act providing an appropriation from the Anti-Litter and Beautification Fund to the Waste Management Authority and the Department of Public Works for operating expenses during the Fiscal Year October 1, 2020, to September 30, 2021 (CLOSED RULE)
  • Bill No. 33-0377-An Act providing an appropriation from the General Fund of the Government of the Virgin Islands for the operation of the Government of the Virgin Islands during the fiscal year October 1, 2020, through September 30, 2021 (CLOSED RULE)
  • Bill No. 33-0379-An Act providing an appropriation for the operating expenses of the Virgin Islands Board of Education from the General Fund during the Fiscal Year October 1, 2020, to September 30, 2021 (CLOSED RULE)
  • Bill No. 33-0380-An Act providing an appropriation for the operating expenses of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles of the Government of the Virgin Islands during the Fiscal Year October 1, 2020, to September 30, 2021 (CLOSED RULE)
  • Bill No. 33-0381-An Act providing an appropriation from the Business and Commercial Properties Revolving Fund of the Government of the Virgin Islands to the Department of Property and Procurement for operating expenses during the Fiscal Year October 1, 2020, to September 30, 2021 (CLOSED RULE)
  • Bill No. 33-0382-An Act providing an appropriation for the operating expenses of the Virgin Islands Career and Technical Education Board from the General Fund of the Government of the Virgin Islands during the Fiscal Year October 1, 2020, to September 30, 2021 (CLOSED RULE)
  • Bill No. 33-0383-An Act providing an appropriation from the Caribbean Basin Initiative Fund for the Fiscal Year October 1, 2020, to September 30, 2021 (CLOSED RULE)
  • Bill No. 33-0384-An Act providing an appropriation for the operation of the Judicial Branch of the Government of the Virgin Islands during the Fiscal Year October 1, 2020, to September 30, 2021 (CLOSED RULE)
  • Bill No. 33-0385-An Act providing an appropriation for salaries and expenses of the Board of Elections and the Office of the Supervisor for the Fiscal Year October 1, 2020, to September 30, 2020 (CLOSED RULE)
  • Bill No. 33-0375-An Act appropriating $15,000,000 from the General Fund to the Waste Management Authority to pay outstanding debts to the waste haulers (CLOSED RULE)
  • Bill No. 33-0386-An Act providing for the lump sum appropriation from the Health Revolving Fund for Fiscal Year October 1, 2020, to September 30, 2021 (CLOSED RULE)
  • Bill No. 33-0387-An Act providing an appropriation for the operating expenses of the Virgin Islands Hospital and Health Facilities Corporation from the General Fund of the Government of the Virgin Islands during the Fiscal Year October 1, 2020, to September 30, 2021 (CLOSED RULE)
  • Bill No. 33-0388-An Act to provide for the lump sum appropriation from the Indirect Cost Fund for salaries, operating expenses, and for other purposes, of the Office of Management and Budget, the Division of Personnel, the Department of Property and Procurement, and the Department of Finance for the Fiscal Year October 1, 2020, to September 30, 2021 (CLOSED RULE)
  • Bill No. 33-0389-An Act providing an appropriation for operating expenses of the Virgin Islands Office of the Inspector General from the General Fund of the Government of the Virgin Islands during the Fiscal Year October 1, 2020, to September 30, 2021 (CLOSED RULE)
  • Bill No. 33-0390-An Act providing an appropriation for the sum of $14,500,000 from the Virgin Islands Insurance Guaranty Fund as a contribution to the General Fund for the Fiscal Year October 1, 2020, to September 30, 2021 (CLOSED RULE)
  • Bill No. 33-0391-An Act amending Virgin Islands Code, Title 22, chapter 10, section 2379(a)(3) (a) and Title 33, chapter 111, section 3061 relating to the balance in the Insurance Guaranty Fund to amend the currently required $$20,000,000 amount which is set to increase to $50,000,000 on September 30, 2020, to $30,000,000 (CLOSED RULE)
  • Bill No. 33-0392-An Act providing an appropriation for the sum of $1,100,000 from the Interest Earned on Debt Services Reserves as a contribution to the General Fund for the Fiscal Year October 1, 2020, through September 30, 2021 (CLOSED RULE)
  • Bill No. 33-0393-An Act providing an appropriation from the Internal Revenue Matching Fund for the Fiscal Year October 1, 2020, to September 30, 2021 (CLOSED RULE)
  • Bill No. 33-0394-An Act providing an appropriation for the operation of the Legislature of the Virgin Islands during the Fiscal Year October 1, 2020, to September 30, 2021 (CLOSED RULE)
  • Bill No. 33-0395-An Act providing an appropriation in the sum of $78,960 from the V.I. Lottery as a contribution to the General Fund for the Fiscal Year October 1, 2020, to September 30, 2021 (CLOSED RULE)
  • Bill No. 33-0396-An Act providing an appropriation for the operating expenses of the Public Employees Relations Board and the Labor Management Committee for the Fiscal Year October 1, 2020, to September 30, 2021 (CLOSED RULE)
  • Bill No. 33-0397-An Act providing an appropriation to the Public Services Commission for the Fiscal Year October 1, 2020, to September 30, 2021 (CLOSED RULE)
  • Bill No. 33-0398-An Act providing an appropriation for operating expenses of the Waste Management Authority from the Sewer System Fund of the Government of the Virgin Islands for the Fiscal Year October 1, 2020, to September 30, 2021 (CLOSED RULE)
  • Bill No. 33-0399-An Act providing an appropriation for operating expenses of the Department of Public Works and the Waste Management Authority from the St. John Capital Improvement Fund of the Government of the Virgin Islands for the Fiscal Year October 1, 2020, through September 30, 2021 (CLOSED RULE)
  • Bill No. 33-0400-An Act providing an appropriation for the sum of $2,000,000 from the Internal Revenue Matching Fund as a contribution to the St. Croix Capital Improvement Fund for the Fiscal Year October 1, 2020, through September 30, 2021 (CLOSED RULE)
  • Bill No. 33-0401-An Act providing an appropriation to the Virgin Islands Taxicab Commission for the Fiscal Year October 1, 2020, to September 30, 2021 (CLOSED RULE)
  • Bill No. 33-0402-An Act providing an appropriation from the Tourism Advertising Revolving Fund to the Office of Management and Budget, Virgin Islands Police Department, the Department of Public Works, the Virgin Islands Waste Management Agency, and the Department of Tourism during the Fiscal Year October 1, 2020, through September 30, 2021(CLOSED RULE)
  • Bill No. 33-0403-An Act providing an appropriation from the Tourism Advertising Revolving Fund to the Department of Education, Department of Agriculture, and Department of Sports, Parks, and Recreation during the Fiscal Year October 1, 2020, through September 30, 2021 (CLOSED RULE)
  • Bill No. 33-0404-An Act providing an appropriation for the sum of $10,000,000 from the Transportation Trust Fund as a contribution to the General Fund for the Fiscal Year October 1, 2020, to September 30, 2021 (CLOSED RULE)
  • Bill No. 33-0405-An Act providing an appropriation for the salaries and expenses of the University of the Virgin Islands during the Fiscal Year October 1, 2020, to September 30, 2021 (CLOSED RULE)
  • Bill No. 33-0406-An Act providing an appropriation for the operating expenses of the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority from the General Fund of the Government of the Virgin Islands during the Fiscal Year October 1, 2020, to September 30, 2021 (CLOSED RULE)
  • Bill No. 33-0407-An Act to make FY20 Funds available until expended by amending Act No. 8219, thereby providing funds for the renovation of the Board of Education’s Guirty House and Act No. 8245 thereby providing funds for DPNR’s office relocation; DOE’S VI History books, Legislative Civic Education Initiative, STEM Summer Project, Claude O. Markoe Steelpan Trolley, LEGVI’s Gasoline Excise Tax Consultant/Lobbyist; and DSPR Funds for the Sports Commission and Track and Field Federation Equipment (CLOSED RULE)
  • Bill No. 33-0408-An Act providing an appropriation from the Government Insurance Fund of the Government of the Virgin Islands to the Department of Labor and the Department of Finance for operating expenses during the Fiscal Year October 1, 2020, to September 30, 2021 (CLOSED RULE)
  • Bill No. 33-0409-An Act amending Act No. 8171, Section 1(B) by changing GERS Direct Contribution to outstanding employer contributions only (CLOSED RULE)
  • Bill No. 33-0412-An Act making an appropriation of $30,000 to the University of the Virgin Islands as a grant to the League of Women Voters to conduct an educational campaign on the referendum to be held at the November 2020 General Election (CLOSED RULE)
  • Bill No. 33-0413-An Act making an appropriation of $250,000 from the General Fund to the Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs for acquiring Cannabis-related software (CLOSED RULE)
  • Bill No. 33-0412-An Act making an appropriation of $30,000 to the University of the Virgin Islands as a grant to the League of Women Voters to conduct an educational campaign on the referendum to be held at the November 2020 General Election as amended
  • Bill No. 33-0343-An Act to amend Title 19 of the Virgin Islands Code establishing minimum criteria for members of the Virgin Islands Government and Health Facilities Corporation Board, decreasing the number of its members, and increasing the stipend of its board members as amended
  • Bill No. 33-0346-An Act establishing a Management and Oversight Review Committee for the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority
  • Bill No. 33-0347-An Act amending Title 17 Virgin Islands Code, chapter 15, section 190dd to provide scholarship benefits for the person receiving home instruction as amended
  • Bill No. 33-0348-An Act amending Title 27 Virgin Islands Code, chapter 1, subchapter I relating to licensing of medical professionals to provide for a two-year licensure period amending subchapter IIb to repeal provisions that appear in subchapter I and provisions that have become obsolete; and amending subchapter IIb, section 50i to allow physician assistants to prescribe, dispense, and administer Schedule II through V narcotic drugs and non-narcotic drugs to the extent delegated by a physician as amended
  • Bill No. 33-0375-An Act appropriating $15,000,000 from the General Fund to the Waste Management Authority to pay outstanding debts to the waste haulers as amended
  • Bill No. 33-0410-An Act providing for the disbursement of monies to the Virgin Islands Economic Development Authority to establish the Small Business Relief Grant Program and the COVID-19 Disaster Loan Program as amended
  • Bill No. 33-0417- An Act providing an appropriation for the sum $1,500,000 from the Internal Revenue Matching Fund as a contribution to the St. Thomas Capital Improvement Fund for the Fiscal Year October 1, 2020, through September 30, 2021
  • Bill No. 33-0418- An Act providing for the remitter of an amount not exceeding 50% of the revenues realized in excess of the funds appropriated by the Legislature of the Virgin Islands for the operation of the Government of the Virgin Islands (GERS) in the fiscal year ending September 30, 2020, and for an amount not exceeding $50,000,000 to be remitted to the GERS, in the fiscal year ending on September 30, 2021, from General Fund revenues realized in excess of the funds appropriated by the Legislature of the Virgin Islands for the operation of the Government of the Virgin Islands, to be used by the GERS exclusively for retirement annuity payments for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2021as amended
  • Bill No. 33-0415-An Act to authorize the Commissioner of Public Works to accept the residential roads of Estate LaReine, on the island of St. Croix, into the public roadway system and to utilize the St. Croix Capital Improvement Fund to repair the residential roads in Estate LaReine as amended
  • Bill No. 33-0198-An Act amending the Virgin Islands Code title 14, chapter 7, section 192, relating to the importation of snakes, to increase the penalty for the illegal importation of snakes and imposing penalties for the importation of animals or species not indigenous to the Virgin Islands which may pose a threat to the ecosystem of the Virgin Islands or the people of the Virgin Islands; and amending title 19, part VII, chapter 63, section 2709 (b), relating to prohibition on importing of animals to prevent disease to require animals entering the Territory to have a valid certificate of veterinary inspection, and to subject any animal entering the Territory without a certificate of inspection to quarantine as amended
  • Bill No. 33- 0316- An Act amending Title 24 Virgin Islands Code, chapter 3, by adding section 65a expanding the act of unfair labor practices as amended
  • Bill No. 33-0112- An Act appropriating all revenue derived from fees for initial and renewal firearms and ammunition licenses, during the period of June 1, 2019, to May 21, 2022, to the St. Croix Career and Technical Education Center

Legislative Session recessed until Wednesday, September 30, 2020.

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