REPRESENTATIVE ANDREW JOSEPHSON

(907) 465-4939 | State Capitol Building, Room 430 | WEBSITE
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Sponsor    Statement

House Bill 23: Survivors’ Medical Benefits – Background

In 2014, Alaska State Troopers Scott Johnson and Gabe Rich, were shot and killed in the line of duty in Tanana. Almost immediately, their wives and young children lost their employer-provided medical insurance. The year before, Trooper Tage Toll died in a helicopter accident rescuing a stranded snowmachiner, leaving his wife and three young children also without health insurance. These deaths highlighted a gap in medical benefit coverage to survivors of police officers and firefighters whose deaths occur as a result of their jobs.

In 2015, House Bill 3 and HB 66 were introduced to address the gap issue. HB 66 provided spouses and children of state employees killed in the line of duty with health coverage within the Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) health plan. HB 3 amended the Alaska Workers’ Compensation Act to cover the costs of health insurance premiums for surviving spouses and children. Neither bill passed in the regular session.

In 2016, during the fourth special session, Governor Walker submitted HB 4002 that provided major medical benefits to the eligible survivors of peace officers and firefighters whose deaths occurred while in the performance of their duties. The legislation applied to employees who were members of PERS and to employees working for municipalities that participate in PERS. Under PERS, major medical benefits are available to survivors of Tier I employees in the defined benefit plan. HB 4002 extended major benefit coverage to survivors of employees regardless of what Tier applied to the deceased member.

An amended version of HB 4002 passed the House. The amendment terminated benefits after 10 years or after the surviving spouse remarried, whichever came first. The legislation did not pass the Senate. Following the final legislative session of the 29th legislature, the administration convened an inter-agency working group to address issues raised during the 2016 session and to develop a new approach.

HB 23

As introduced, HB 23 mirrored the original version of HB 4002. The proposed Finance committee substitute for HB 23 substantively changes the language. The new proposal is based on the concepts developed by the administration’s working group over the interim.

The legislation establishes a police officer and firefighter survivors’ fund in the Department of Public Safety. Appropriations and donations to the fund will be used to pay the health insurance premiums for eligible survivors. Premium payments are made to the deceased’s former employer-sponsored medical insurance provider.

Municipalities with populations of 10,000 or more are required to pay the full premium for survivors of municipal police officers and firefighters. For municipalities with populations less than 10,000, money available in the fund will cover 50 percent of the premium.

Appropriations to the police officer and firefighter survivors’ fund will be based on need. For example, for the families who currently are likely to be eligible for premium coverage under the legislation, the legislature may appropriate to the fund the amount necessary to cover their premiums as part of this year’s budget process. If there is an incident between legislative sessions and additional survivors become eligible for coverage, it may be possible for the fund to pay the additional premiums. The department would then request a supplemental appropriation at the start of the next session.

The commissioner shall pay the premium for the level of health coverage that applied at the time of the employee’s death. A surviving spouse becomes ineligible for payments from the fund when the spouse becomes eligible for major medical insurance coverage by other means or reaches 65 years of age, whichever comes first. Except for a child who is totally and permanently disabled, a dependent child becomes ineligible when they receive major medical insurance coverage by other means or reach 26 years of age, whichever comes first.


 
[signed]
REPRESENTATIVE ANDREW JOSEPHSON

SPONSOR STATEMENTS from Alaska House Majority Coalition

House Bill 1: Election Registration and Voting

From the office of Representative Tuck


House Bill 2: Employment Preference for Veterans

From the office of Representative Tuck


House Bill 3: National Guard Leave/Reemployment Rights

From the office of Representative Tuck


House Bill 7: Ballot Selfies

From the office of Representative Kreiss-Tomkins


House Bill 8: Protection Orders from Other Jurisdictions

From the office of Representative Edgmon


House Bill 11: RIP for Public Employees/Teachers

From the office of Representative Kawasaki


House Bill 13: No State/Municipal Funds: Federal Immigration Registry

From the office of Representative Josephson


House Bill 14: Legislative Approval for Bristol Bay Sulfide Mine

From the office of Representative Josephson


House Bill 20: Solemnize Marriage: Elected Officials

From the office of Representative Claman


House Bill 23: Survivors’ Medical Benefits – Background

From the office of Representative Josephson


House Bill 26: Nursing Mothers in Workplace

From the office of Representative Tarr


House Bill 29: Ban Sale of Genetically Modified Fish

From the office of Representative Tarr


House Bill 30: Paid Sick Leave

From the office of Representative Tarr


House Bill 31: Sexual Assault Examination Kits

From the office of Representative Tarr


House Bill 32: GMO Labeling

From the office of Representative Tarr


House Bill 37: PERS Credit for Injured Peace Officers and Firefighters

From the office of Representative Josephson


House Bill 38: Benefits for Workplace Death and Permanent Impairment

From the office of Representative Josephson


House Bill 40: Trapping Near Public Trails

From the office of Representative Josephson


House Bill 43: The Right to Try: New Drugs for the Terminally Ill

From the office of Representative Grenn


House Bill 44: Legislative Ethics: Voting & Conflicts

From the office of Representative Grenn


House Bill 47: PERS Contributions By Municipalities

From the office of Representative Foster


House Bill 49: Extend Board of Direct-Entry Midwives

From the office of Representative Kito III


House Bill 52: Alaska Voluntary Pre-Elementary Education Act

From the office of Representative Kawasaki


House Bill 54: Voluntary Termination of Life

From the office of Representative Drummond


House Bill 78: Indigenous Peoples Day

From the office of Representative Westlake


House Bill 80: Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Financing

From the office of Representative Wool


House Bill 81: More Energy Efficient Buildings Act

From the office of Representative Kreiss-Tomkins


House Bill 82: Off-Highway Driver's Licenses

From the office of Representative Kreiss-Tomkins


House Bill 84: Municipal Property Tax Exemption

From the office of Representative Kreiss-Tomkins


House Bill 85: Petersburg Lands Bill

From the office of Representative Kreiss-Tomkins


House Bill 87: Conflict of Interest: Board of Fisheries/Game

From the office of Representative Stutes


House Bill 88: Board of Fisheries Membership

From the office of Representative Stutes


House Bill 89: Licensing Radiologic Technicians

From the office of Representative Tuck


House Bill 99: Oil & Gas Tax Credit Disclosures

From the office of Representative Josephson


House Bill 102: Limited Teacher Certificates

From the office of Representative Kreiss-Tomkins


House Bill 103: Optometry & Optometrists

From the office of Representative Spohnholz


House Bill 105: Gordon Haber Denali Wolf Special Management Area

From the office of Representative Josephson


House Bill 108: Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets

From the office of Representative Claman


House Bill 111: Oil and Gas Production Tax; Payments; Credits

From the office of Representative Tarr


House Bill 115: State Revenue Restructure Act

From the office of Representative Seaton


House Bill 123: Disclosure of Health Care Costs

From the office of Representative Spohnholz


House Bill 126: Organized Militia: Workers Compensation

From the office of Representative Tuck


House Bill 127: Criminal Conviction Overturned: Receive Past PFD

From the office of Representative Kawasaki


House Bill 128: Shellfish Enhancement Projects; Hatcheries

From the office of Representative Ortiz


House Bill 131: Relocation Assistance for Federal Projects/Programs

From the office of Representative Wool


House Bill 132: Transportation Network Companies

From the office of Representative Wool


House Bill 133: Fair Share for Alaska Oil Act

From the office of Representative Gara


House Bill 134: Board of Game Composition

From the office of Representative Josephson


House Bill 141: AK Workforce Investment Board; Funds

From the office of Representative Fansler


House Bill 151: Children Deserve a Loving Home Act

From the office of Representative Gara


House Bill 166: Museum Construction Grant Program

From the office of Representative Parish


House Bill 167: Repeal of Performance Reviews

From the office of Representative LeDoux


House Bill 172: Cultivation of Industrial Hemp

From the office of Representative Drummond


House Bill 173: Climate Change Response Commission

From the office of Representative Josephson


House Bill 177: Aquatic Invasive Species

From the office of Representative Tarr


House Bill 181: Legislature Per Diem and Travel Allowance

From the office of Representative Kreiss-Tomkins


House Bill 184: Prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation

From the office of Representative Josephson


House Bill 188: Regional Fisheries Trusts

From the office of Representative Kreiss-Tomkins


House Bill 199: Fish / Wildife Habitat Protection; Permits

From the office of Representative Stutes


House Bill 200: Top Two Non-Partisan Primary Election

From the office of Representative LeDoux


House Bill 201: Municipal Regulation of Trapping

From the office of Representative Josephson


House Bill 203: Remote Recreational Cabin Site Staking Sales

From the office of Representative Kawasaki


House Bill 204: Overtaking / Passing DOT Vehicles

From the office of Representative Kawasaki


House Bill 213: Public School Trust Fund

From the office of Representative Parish


House Bill 217: Raw Milk Sales; Food Exempt From Regulations

From the office of Representative Tarr


House Bill 218: State Veterinarian; Animals; Products

From the office of Representative Tarr


House Bill 234: Extend Alaska Health Care Commission

From the office of Representative Guttenberg


House Bill 236: Extend Senior Benefits Payment Program

From the office of Representative Kawasaki


House Concurrent Resolution 1: Legislative Ethics: Voting & Conflicts

From the office of Representative Grenn


House Concurrent Resolution 2: Respond to Adverse Childhood Experiences

From the office of Representative Tarr


House Concurrent Resolution 3: APRIL 2017: Child Abuse Prevention Month

From the office of Representative Tarr


House Joint Resolution 5: Endorsing ANWR Leasing; Related Issues

From the office of Representative Westlake


House Joint Resolution 12: Opposing Genetically Engineered Salmon

From the office of Representative Tarr


House Joint Resolution 21: Feds Respect State Reg of Marijuana

From the office of Representative Guttenberg