A. Any locality may provide group life, accident, and health insurance programs for its officers and employees; employees of boards, commissions, agencies, or authorities created by or controlled by such locality; or employees of boards, commissions, agencies, or authorities that are political subdivisions of the Commonwealth and work in close cooperation with such locality. In addition, any locality that provides such a health insurance program may allow eligible members of approved volunteer fire or rescue companies, as determined by the locality, to participate in such a health insurance program. Such programs may be through a program of self-insurance, purchased insurance, or partial self-insurance and purchased insurance, whichever is determined to be the most cost effective. The total cost of such policies or protection may be paid entirely by the locality or shared with the employee. The governing body of any locality may provide for its retired officers and retired employees to be eligible for such group life, accident, and health insurance programs. The cost of such insurance for retired officers and retired employees may be paid in whole or in part by the locality. The governing body of any locality may permit members of approved volunteer fire or rescue companies to participate in its group health insurance programs, subject to the eligibility criteria established by the locality. The cost of a volunteer’s participation in such a health insurance program shall be paid for in full by the participating volunteer. Any locality may fund the cost of a volunteer’s participation in a mental health treatment and counseling program that is offered to individual members of approved volunteer fire or rescue companies and is comparable to an employee assistance program offered to paid employees of the locality.
B. In the event a county or city elects to provide one or more of such programs for its officers and employees, it shall provide such programs to the constitutional officers and their employees on the same basis as provided to other officers and employees, unless the constitutional officers and employees are covered under a state program, and the cost of such local program shall be borne entirely by the locality or shared with the employee.
1. Except as otherwise provided herein, in the event the governing body of any locality elects to provide group accident and health insurance for its officers and employees, including constitutional officers and their employees, such programs shall require that upon retirement, or upon the effective date of this provision for those who have previously retired, any such individual with (i) at least 15 years of continuous employment with the locality or (ii) less than 15 years of continuous employment who has retired due to line-of-duty injuries may choose to continue his coverage with the insurer at the retiree’s expense until such individual attains 65 years of age at the insurer’s customary premium rate applicable (a) to such policies, (b) to the class of risk to which the person then belongs, and (c) to his age.
3. Any locality that has not offered the opportunity to continue group health coverage provided by the locality as required by subdivision 1 to its retirees who had retired on or before June 30, 1993, and who meet the criteria for such coverage as set forth in subdivision 1, shall do so by July 1, 2000. Any retiree from the service of a locality who had retired on or before June 30, 1993, and who meets the criteria to continue his group health coverage from the locality under subdivision 1 who has not yet elected to continue his group health coverage from the locality shall elect whether to do so by July 1, 2000.
D. Any locality that offers group health plans to its employees and the employees of constitutional officers and its retirees, as provided by this section or otherwise, may provide in the plan providing such coverage that any retiree who is participating in a group health plan provided by the locality who subsequently terminates his participation in such plan may not thereafter rejoin a group health plan provided by the locality.
1981, c. 332, § 15.1-7.3; 1984, c. 712; 1987, cc. 435, 564; 1992, c. 750; 1993, c. 782; 1997, c. 587; 1999, c. 797; 2003, c. 409; 2007, c. 150; 2012, cc. 191, 515; 2016, cc. 207, 417.