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INSURANCE CONTRACT, TAX EXEMPTION BILLS SIGNED

Sept. 30, 2003 – What the Legislature approved on Monday in the special session hastily called by Gov. Charles W. Turnbull, the governor signed without hesitation on Tuesday:
– A bill ratifying the renewal of the government's group health and medical insurance with Connecticut General Life Insurance Co. (Cigna) and its dental insurance with Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. (MetLife).
– A bill amending the V.I. Code to exempt insurers providing health and life insurance coverage to the government from the 5 percent premium tax designated to go into the Insurance Guaranty Fund as a hedge against company defaults.
"Enactment of these measures ensures our government employees and retirees of continued health insurance coverage at reasonable rates," Turnbull said in a Government House Release distributed Tuesday afternoon.
The 2003 contracts with both insurance companies expire on Oct. 1 — Wednesday.
The cost of medical coverage is increasing under the new contract, while that of dental coverage is decreasing, senators were told on Monday. Overall, the insurance costs are rising by $5 million — to $73 million from $68 million.
Turnbull commended the government's Health Insurance Board members for "negotiating the best benefit package possible for government employees and retirees." The insurance reportedly covers about 12,000 employees and their families plus retirees, for a total of about 30,000 persons, or nearly 30 percent of the territory's population.
Exemption from the 5 percent premium tax was a condition of the contracts negotiated by the board.
In his letter of transmittal to Senate President David Jones, the governor also acknowledged receipt of a resolution passed by the Legislature "to petition the delegate to Congress to join the 25th Legislature in pursuing the $65,400,000 needed to reimburse residents of the territory in compliance with President Bush's new tax plan."

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