While the final status of government employees’ health and dental insurance agreements was unknown by the end of Tuesday’s Senate hearing, Sen. Kurt Vialet said at a Wednesday extension new rates are arranged and, “we don’t have to increase costs for any employee of the Government of the Virgin Islands.”
Senate President Novelle Francis Jr. reminded the community that the Legislature does not typically get to negotiate insurance rates on behalf of the government, but asked Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company officials to meet senators after Tuesday’s hearing in hopes of lowering the rate packages.
The “fruitful discussion” took place sometime before the session resumed again Wednesday morning, and Vialet said it involved the Legislature, Cigna representatives and legal counsel.
The result of that discussion was “a reduction as to what Cigna is going to be charging the Government of the Virgin Islands. It will in fact result in the employees of the Government of the Virgin Islands not to have to pay any increased costs. So, your insurance is going to stay the same,” Vialet said.
Had lawmakers been unable to meet with the insurance company and lower rates, Vialet said, the result would likely have been a proposed $22 increase for employees, a $54 increase without the Government of the Virgin Islands subsidizing a portion.
“Through a good discussion with the insurance company, speaking in reference to the pandemic and not as many individuals visiting the doctor from the Virgin Islands, we felt it was necessary for them to reduce what they were charging the Government of the Virgin Islands,” Vialet said.
Happy with the new terms, senators voted to approve both insurance agreements. Now the agreements await Gov. Albert Bryan Jr.’s signature.
In addition to voting on the insurance agreements, lawmakers passed additional bills which will also be sent to the governor for final approval.
All senators were present for Wednesday’s brief hearing, except Sen. Alicia Barnes who was excused.