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Last year, the Council voted down a benefits package for same-sex partners, but the new proposal is different. It goes beyond providing health insurance to same sex partners.
City employees would be able to add other family members who live under the same roof to their health care plan. Under the proposal, same-sex partners, unmarried straight couples, adult children, and parents younger than 65 would get health insurance through the city, if they live with a city employee.
City Council member Jerry Heimlicher says, “The whole issue is one of fairness, trying to reduce the number of uninsured people.” He believes too many uninsured people are getting free care at Memorial Hospital. He thinks the new plan would allow more people to be insured, but they would pay a premium for that health coverage.
However, some Council members are against the benefits proposal. “I oppose it,” says Margaret Radford. “Very clear about that for several months." She believes Colorado Springs would be the only city in the state with a plan like this. That isn’t the only reason she's against it, though. "I think it was a well meaning effort to be inclusive and not have it be just about gay benefits. But, truthfully, it's just about gay benefits.”
Heimlicher disagrees with Radford. He says, "This is not a gay and lesbian issue, and it shouldn't be decided by emotion. It should be decided by facts.”
The Council is expected to vote on the benefits plan tomorrow, and it's likely it will be a close vote.