FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 7, 2009
CONTACT: Doris Sanchez, Press Secretary
Phone: (512) 463-0385
Texas Senate Approves Health Insurance Bill for Peace Officers' Survivors
AUSTIN, TX — In response to the injustice many survivors of peace officers killed in the line of duty face regarding health insurance coverage and affordability, Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. filed Senate Bill 872, which was approved unanimously today by the Texas Senate with seven co-authors, including Senators Carona, Deuell, Estes, Hegar, Jackson, Patrick and Van de Putte.
"SB 872 corrects a misinterpretation of legislation I filed in 1993, SB 97, that was intended to protect the families of law enforcement officers killed while on duty," said Sen. Lucio. "SB 97 allowed these survivor families to continue to purchase their health insurance from the deceased officer's employer at the same rate the officer paid, but this has not happened in many cases."
While many county and municipal employers complied with the intent of the law, some did not, including the state. In one case, the state raised the premium for the family of Game Warden Justin Hurst, who was murdered in 2007, from about $300 a month to over $700 per month. Sadly, because of the increased cost, many survivors are unable to afford the insurance and allow it to lapse.
When he learned of this situation from survivor families, the Senator felt it was incumbent upon the state to remedy the problem. After meeting with survivor families, Sen. Lucio became aware of other situations he felt should be rectified. For example, his bill also allows survivor families who drop coverage or are canceled to rejoin the insurance plan, even if the spouse remarries.
"These officers have made the supreme sacrifice serving our communities," added Sen. Lucio, "and this is the least we can do for their families. These are the men and women who are on the front lines of defending our society and allow us to live in peace. We need to let the families of those who have died know that we honor their sacrifice AND we need to let those still serving know that should the worst happen, we will maintain our commitment to their families!"