Amendment seeks healthcare coverage for retired House Speakers

Mary Lawrence served as Speaker of the House from 2009 to 2013.

Proposed legislation made public this week seeks to provide healthcare coverage for retired Speakers of the Cayman Islands Legislative Assembly who were not elected as members of the House when they served in that position.

According to proposed amendment to the Health Insurance Law, the purpose of the change is “empowering the government to effect and continue a contract of health insurance on behalf of a past Speaker who was not a member of the Legislative Assembly.”

Of the six House Speakers who have served since the Cayman Islands governor was removed from the position of presiding over the assembly, only two – Mary Lawrence and National Hero Sybil McLaughlin – were not elected as House members. The other four, Mabry Kirkconnell, Linford Pierson, Juliana O’Connor-Connolly and the late Edna Moyle, were or are elected members.

Both former and current members of parliament receive healthcare coverage during and after their service. Ms. McLaughlin, who served as Legislative Assembly clerk for decades, receives continuing coverage as a retired civil servant.

It was only Ms. Lawrence, who served as House Speaker between 2009 and 2013, who did not qualify for coverage – under the current law – as either a civil service pensioner or an elected House member.

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Premier Alden McLaughlin said Wednesday that he discussed the issue with Ms. Lawrence and believes it was necessary to include former Speakers into the law to allow for continuing healthcare coverage.

“Ms. Mary was the only one who was neither an elected member nor a civil servant,” the premier said.

If the situation should arise again, the legal amendment seeks to cover it by ensuring “each past Speaker who was not a member of the Legislative Assembly” is covered under the Health Insurance Law.

The amendment further seeks to cover any nonpayment or non-collection of any premiums charged by the Cayman Islands National Insurance Company during what is referred to as the “operative period.” Any non-payments that occurred during that period would be validated.

The “operative period” as defined by the bill would be from July 1, 2014, onward until the legislation is approved by the assembly.

It is not certain when the Legislative Assembly will next meet to vote on any items.

Tentative dates set for February were bypassed when the Progressives-led administration began losing members to the opposition benches.

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