Same-Sex Health Plan at Minn U

By By U Wire

By U Wire

MINNEAPOLIS?Marjorie Cowmeadow has been waiting for the university to enact same-sex domestic partner health-care benefits.

Associate dean of General College and University of Minnesota employee of 33 years, Cowmeadow and Teresa Schneider, partners for 23 years, will receive these benefits starting Jan. 1 when the University will begin a new health insurance plan. Employees in same-sex domestic partnerships will receive the same medical benefits offered to married partners.

“It’s a work-equality issue,” Cowmeadow said. “It means [the university is] not discriminating against employees.

“With Teresa and I, there were periods of time where she was out of work and I could not cover her,” Cowmeadow said. “For the first time, we’re able to cover our partners.

“I retire Jan. 2, 2002, and I feel like I can retire, having pulled this off,” Cowmeadow said. “If I didn’t have this, I’d feel terrible leaving this place.”

The university has tried to implement medical benefits for same-sex domestic partners since the Board of Regents passed a resolution in 1993 saying the institution is committed to providing equal benefits.

“This has been an issue that’s been under discussion quite a bit [here] over the last number of years,” said Carol Carrier, vice president for human resources.

But the university used the state’s insurance plan?the State Employees Group Insurance Program.

Under the state’s plan, the university was limited in the medical benefits it could offer to same-sex couples.

“We were not allowed to include domestic partners and treat them the same way we do married spouses,” Carrier said.

A reimbursement program was instituted to provide some insurance coverage to registered same-sex domestic partners.

“There’s a process that people go through to register their same-sex domestic partner at the university, and that’s a process we’ve used for years,” Carrier said.