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Partners get insurance but will be taxed on benefit

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health River Falls, 54022

River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

Almost 600 state government employees have signed up for the health insurance that's being offered to their domestic partners for the first time.

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But those couples face another hurdle married couples don't: new taxes. Federal law treats health coverage for domestic partners as income.

Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, is working to change that. She put a tax exemption for domestic partner health benefits in the House version of the national health care reform bill. But it's not in the Senate version that passed last week, and a conference committee will decide if it goes in or out.

If it stays out, state corrections' Sgt. Rachael Merry told the Wisconsin State Journal it will cost her partner and the woman's daughter an extra $4,500 a year.

The state budget passed this year grants health benefits to domestic partners of state employees, starting on New Year's Day. Officials say it will cost an extra $4.8 million next year.

Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, said he's proud to pass the measure, because U-W Madison is no longer the only Big Ten university that does not offer domestic partner benefits. Almost 180 UW employees have signed up statewide.

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