WPPA

Police Survivors’ Health Insurance Law

2019 WISCONSIN ACT 19

A longtime WPPA legislative priority, we are pleased to announce the enactment of a new law on October 16, 2019, which provides that, if a city, village, or town pays health insurance premiums for its law enforcement officers, that entity must continue to pay the premiums for the surviving spouse and dependent children of an officer who dies in the line of duty. Premium payments on behalf of a surviving spouse terminate when a spouse remarries or reaches age 65. Premium payments on behalf of a dependent child terminate when the child reaches age 26.

A “law enforcement officer” covered by the provision includes an officer in a local police department, a county jailer, a Marquette University police officer, a state patrol officer, a state Capitol police officer, a University of Wisconsin System police officer, an officer in the Division of Criminal Investigation in the Department of Justice, a state conservation warden, a sheriff, an undersheriff, a deputy sheriff, a chief of police, a special agent in Department of Revenue, and a state fair park police officer.

The premium payments made by cities, villages, towns, and counties under the new law will be reimbursed from the county and municipal aid program. Specifically, the reimbursement reduces the total shared revenue payment by an amount that is shared among all political subdivisions, proportionately, in relation to each subdivision’s share of the total shared revenue payment. The reimbursement is not available to a state or university entity that provides continued health insurance.

The law further requires employers to maintain confidentiality for personally-identifiable information of a surviving spouse or dependent children for whom the premium payments are made.

The new law also establishes a definition for what it means to die in the line of duty, which was previously undefined in the statutes. A covered death in the line of duty is one that occurs as a direct and proximate result of a personal injury or a single exposure to a hazardous material or condition, while engaged in an action that is required or authorized, and for which compensation is provided or would have been provided if the officer had been on duty.

The new law applies to any covered line-of-duty death occurring on or after January 1, 2019.

Read more in the October issue of the Wisconsin Police Journal.