Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Kent County commissioners move to remove abortion coverage for employees

Three members of the Kent County Commission (Bob Synk, Tom Antor and Stan Ponstein) have pushed for Kent County employee unions to voluntarily remove abortion coverage from their health care plans which are paid for by the county. A county board committee is expected to vote on their measure on today.

UPDATE:The board committee voted in favor of the prolife measure by a vote of 9-0.

Their efforts have culminated with a request expected to be voted on Tuesday by a county board committee. That request directs administrative staff to ask unions to voluntarily remove the benefit, and if they refuse, to make it a negotiating issue when contracts expire. Antor, Synk and Ponstein are members of the committee.

"As a taxpayer, I'm kind of offended that my tax dollars are being used for that procedure," said Antor, who describes himself as a "staunch pro-life advocate.".....

The benefit is not widely used among the county's 1,725 employees that have the coverage. Since Jan. 1 2004, county health benefits have covered $5,601 for 13 abortion procedures, according to the county's human resources department.

The issue caught the attention of Synk, Antor and Ponstein after they heard news reports about a pair of Kalamazoo County commissioners who earlier this year pushed for elective abortions to be eliminated from health benefits.

Kent County Administrator Daryl Delabbio said he and most administrative staff members were unaware the benefit was part of the county's Blue Cross Blue Shield health care coverage until someone asked the question.