ALBANY -- The City Council voted to end an "in lieu" health benefit for itself at its Feb. 3 meeting. The change will take effect at the end of the year, when the next council is seated.

The benefit allowed council members who already had health insurance to take a payment equal to the amount of the benefit. According to Councilman Michael Barnes, a two-term member of the council could accumulate $80,000 to $100,000.

The council did not consider whether to force its members to pay for the difference in costs if they choose a more expensive health plan option, as city employees do. Albany offers city employees a basic plan with Kaiser and a more expensive plan with Blue Cross. Workers who choose the more expensive plan have to pay the difference. Council members who choose the more expensive plan do not have to pay the difference.

At a meeting last month, several members of the public criticized the council for having a better benefits arrangement than city employees.



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