A Louisiana senator wants to force the owners of Louisiana’s race tracks and the owners of race horses to pay part of the high cost of getting health insurance for jockeys.
Sen. Don Cravins introduced a bill that would set up the Jockeys Health and Welfare Benefit Fund, to cover those costs. Cravins said the jockeys face especially high rates because they get injured so often.
“It has become a crisis in this state,” said Cravins, D-Opelousas, whose district includes one of the state’s four tracks. “Because of the nature of their work, it has become virtually impossible for jockeys to obtain insurance.”
The Senate passed the measure unanimously on May 22, though Cravins said he planned to rewrite it before it gets to a House committee. The amended bill would divide the insurance costs evenly among the jockeys, the track owners and the horse owners, he said.
Cravins said he expected some opposition from horse and track owners wary of new expenses. He said the total cost to insure the jockeys would be roughly $800,000 per year. About 50 jockeys would qualify for the fund.
Jockeys get paid based on a percentage of their races’ purses. The addition of slot machines at race tracks in 1997 brought new income to the track owners, higher purses for horse owners and somewhat higher incomes for jockeys.
His bill passed the Senate on a vote of 33-0.
Senate Bill 695 can be viewed at http://legis.state.la.us/.
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