Insurance plan

Independence City Council takes key vote on City Employees Health Insurance Plan

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — Tuesday’s Independence City Council meeting introduced a one-year health insurance plan for current and retired city employees. It’s been back and forth for three weeks.

“Just doing year-long band-aid approaches I don’t think brings peace of mind to anyone,” said Michael Steinmeyer, an Independence adviser.

Jared Fears, another councilman responded to Steinmeyer.

“We think this is more than a band-aid approach, just to be clear,” he said.

Even after an exchange of concessions that unfolded in the council chambers on Tuesday, a unanimous vote before a packed house of retirees and firefighters ended a debate over health insurance plans for city employees.

“I’m glad people can choose health insurance and rest easier now, that some sort of solution has been found,” said Dan Hobart, another councilor.

Capt. Michael Veit, treasurer and secretary of the Independence Firefighters Union, reacted to the vote.

“Right now our healthcare plan is secure, we’re secure through 2023,” he said.

He told KSHB 41 that the 2022 budget for city employee health insurance is $19.4 million, but will increase by $4 million next year.

Taking care of employee health before emergencies and costly claims is a priority.

“It’s death by 1,000 paper cuts, that’s what it is,” Veit said. “If we can work to reduce this window and improve the health of our members, it will affect our premiums and our costs in the future.”

Veit added that a long-term solution will become clearer in December after employee enrollment opens, and that others may be needed to benefit hundreds of current and retired city employees.