March 16-18, 2005
Alternate Language Offered By Regent Barrett
ITEM 126-107-R0305 Approval of Additional Dependent Coverage, MUS Group Health Insurance Plan
THAT: The Board of Regents of Higher Education authorizes the Commissioner of Higher Education, as administrator of the Montana University System group health plan, to include additional dependent coverage in accordance with this item.
EXPLANATION: Historically the Montana University System (the System) has provided those persons whose marriages were solemnized or created by declaration under the laws of this State the option to include, at the employees expense, certain dependents under the System's Group Health Plan (the Plan). The System also provided similar benefits to those couples whose marriages were not solemnized or created by declaration under the laws of the State if such parties signed an Affidavit of Common Law Marriage form, which form was provided by the operator of the Plan. In December 2004 the Montana Supreme Court ruled that extending these benefits to this group, based on the Affidavit, while excluding others, violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Montana Constitution. Consistent with the decision of the Montana Supreme Court, the System will extend optional Plan benefits to adult dependents of System employees, based on criteria set by the Commissioner of Higher Education, on the same basis for all employees.
RECOMMENDATIONS: The recommended additional coverage will allow for the extension of benefits to the dependents of covered employees of the System on the same basis as benefits are extended to other, similarly-situated, dependents. The methodology for establishing such dependency shall be established by the Commissioner of Higher Education.