WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Branstad Wants Employees to Pay More

Jul 22, 2012

Governor Terry Branstad (R-Iowa) says he will seek a key provision in future contracts with union employees.

Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds (R-Iowa) say they will start paying 20% of their health insurance premiums next month.

The Governor told a crowd in Fort Madison that Iowa could save $100-million if every state employee followed their lead.

“But I don’t expect a lot of rank-and-file workers will do it immediately,” says Branstad, “but down the road, most people in the private sector are paying more than that so we think in the future that makes sense.”

Almost all of Iowa’s union employees pay nothing for their health insurance premiums as a negotiated condition of their union contracts.

The Governor says when contract negotiations resume this fall, he will push for all employees to pay the 20% figure.

The head of Iowa’s largest public employee union, AFSCME, strongly opposes the governor’s plan.

Branstad says Iowa must take steps like this because he does not feel President Barack Obama’s health care reform is affordable or sustainable.

“I don’t know how they are going to be able to afford it,” says Branstad.  “(That’s why Iowa) has taken a different approach as we are trying to get people to take ownership of their own health.”