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Independence City Council makes key vote on city employee health insurance plan

Independence City Council Meeting
Posted at 9:21 PM, Sep 06, 2022

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

"Just doing one-year band-aid approaches is not, I think, bringing peace of mind to anyone," Michael Steinmeyer, an Independence councilman, said.

Jared Fears, another councilman responded to Steinmeyer.

"We believe this is much more than a band aid approach, just to be clear," he said.

Even after a give-and-take that unfolded in the council chambers on Tuesday, a unanimous vote in front of a packed room of retirees and firefighters brought an end to a debate about health insurance plans for city employees.

"I’m happy folks will be able to choose health insurance and rest easier now, that a solution of sorts has been found," Dan Hobart, another councilman, said.

Capt. Michael Veit, the treasurer and secretary for the Independence firefighter union, reacted to the vote.

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

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

Addressing employee health before emergencies, and high cost claims, is a priority.

"It’s death by 1,000 paper cuts is what it is," Veit said. "If we can work on narrowing that window and making our members healthier, that reflects on our premiums and our costs going forward."

Veit added that a long-term solution will become clearer this December after open enrollment for employees, and that additional may be necessary for the benefit of hundreds of current and retired city workers.