Williamson Pulls Back the Curtain
Timothy Williamson (D-West Warwick) — one of the two RI House members to vote against a legislator copay — let slip some of the behind-the-scenes politics:
“Don’t start clapping yourself on the back too hard, you may break your hand,” Williamson said. “The Senate is already telling you they are not going to pass this. So if they are not going to pass it, let’s put the heat on them…Let’s amend it. Let’s get rid of the salaries. Let’s get rid of the benefits. Tell the people of Rhode Island we’re serving them: not for money and not for health insurance. Anybody with me?”
“Wow,” he said after a few seconds. “Silence is deafening.”
Somewhere, somebody in the legislature decided that members of the Senate could take a political hit more readily than members of the House, so the House is free to pass this reform-minded measure under full assurance that it will never actually become law. (Wouldn’t it be neat if the governor had some means of anti-vetoing bills that pass one house of the General Assembly by a supermajority, thereby scuttling this sort of show?)
Here’s some context on the money that the Senate is saving legislators:
At today’s rates, paying 10 percent for the full package would cost $48.59 monthly for an individual plan, $135 for family coverage.
That is not as much as the average Rhode Island employee pays, according to a 2007 national survey by the United Benefit Advisors — an alliance of 142 employee-benefit companies. Among the key findings: the average Rhode Island employee contributes 28.8 percent of the premium cost for individual coverage, which equates to $118 monthly, and 40.4 percent — $397 monthly — for a family plan.
This, however, may be the award winner for legislator spit in the taxpayer eye:
… 15 [House members] are slated to receive $2,002 waiver payments in December including four who have pledged to return a 10-percent slice
Yeah, umm, that’s not really how copays work for the rest of us.