Will they follow?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Iowa Sen. Charles "Chuck" Grassley stopped by Akron on Monday for a town hall meeting. Grassley makes a point of holding meetings in all of Iowa's 99 counties each and every year, and the Akron meeting takes care of Plymouth County for this year.

Grassley listened to concerns and answered questions about the topics, but one response he gave made us wonder if the power of the individual can eventually influence others.

When asked about the Affordable Care Act, more commonly referred to by some as "Obamacare", Grassley pointed out that he pays 32 percent of his health insurance premiums.

Grassley, who served in the Iowa Legislature before seeking federal elected office, pointed out that he pays more than many state lawmakers, who don't pay any of their health insurance premiums.

On the same day, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad signed an executive order that would allow state employees and lawmakers to volunatarily pay 20 percent of their premiums. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds have announced that they will be paying 20 percent of their premiums.

The governor asked all statewide elected official and department heads to do the same. Branstad spokesman Tim Albrecht reports that 88 percent of state employees and all lawmakers pay no health care premiums.

Iowa is one of only six states that don't require employee health care cost sharing. When Branstad campaigned for office, one of the many issues he touched upon was changing this requirement so state employees would contribute to their health care premiums.

The governor's office estimates the state would save $100 million annually is the estimated 27,000 eligible state workers paid 20 percent of their premiums.

Branstad plans to push for the 20 percent contributions in negotiations with state unions this year.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Will leading by example cause others to follow?