Palm Beach May Add Domestic Partnership Benefits

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The City of Palm Beach has itself a new health insurance broker and a new consultant, which means the chance of having domestic partnership benefits added to its employee health plan is very close to happening.

Town Manager Peter Elwell says that Willis of Florida Inc. will be taking a gander at health benefits such as medical, dental, and life insurance to determine the costs.

If the benefits are a go, they will then take a look at the possibility of complete domestic partnership benefits, which includes family medical leave and bereavement leave.

Money, according to Elwell, is the reason Palm Beach hasn't already added domestic partnership benefits.

But Willis of Florida Inc. is expected to sink its teeth into the finer points and get a thorough analysis to hopefully get things rolling.

Elwell asked the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council to give the company numbers to help get the domestic partnership benefits ball into the proverbial hoop.

The newly hired consultant will provide a more quantifiable and objective cost analysis, Elwell said. He also asked the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council to provide information the consultant can use regarding domestic partnership benefits.

Rand Hoch, president of the council, said he has been working for years with local municipalities to provide information on domestic partnership benefits, including cost analysis.

Of course, math and numbers are only part of the process. The real deal here is that domestic partnership benefits is a matter of simple civil rights.

Not offering domestic partners the same rights "legally recognized spouses" get is discrimination.

And so the council is hopeful that will help push this along.

"While the number of employees will have an impact of the cost to the town, the real issue is fair and equal treatment of town employees," council Prez Rand Hoch said.

The Willis of Florida report should prove that domestic partnership benefits works financially. But the Town Council will also have a simple decision to make that comes down to right and wrong.

According to Elwell, his staff is expected to receive the report in June. The Town Council will then look at it during the budget process in July.

Here's hoping they do the right thing.

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