Friday, July 24, 2009

Statewide health care bill introduced

This week, legislation was introduced that would create a statewide group health insurance plan for school employees. House Bill 1881 would require that all school districts participate in the statewide program, with the exception of Philadelphia, which would have the choice to opt-in. Frank Farry is one of 70+ representatives sponsoring the legislation.

HB 1881 has been referred to the House Appropriations Committee skipping the House Education Committee.

HB 1881 creates a Health Care Trust Board with authority to conduct a study of current school employee health care offerings throughout the state, and to develop a statewide plan designed to reduce costs to school districts. The Board will then submit a final plan to the General Assembly, where it must be disapproved by the House, the Senate and the Governor to stop the plan.

This legislation also contains language allowing school districts to reject participation in the statewide plan within 60 days of its creation, with the approval of a majority of school board members and a majority of employees to be covered by the program.

This legislation has the potential to be a HUGE asset for Neshaminy. Not only would it likely reduce our costs for health care coverage, it may also help to remove a real sticking point from our current contract negotiations.

Now if we could only get Harrisburg to sponsor a bill empowering employees to make their own pension plan investment decisions.

(Credit PSBA.org for information used in this post)
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2 comments:

KClarinet said...

Disclaimer: I haven't yet read anyhting about this except your description here - once I find other references (or even slog through parts of the bill myself if need be), I may be able to answer all of the following questions myself.

That said,

1. I'm confused a little by this - are the districts (other than Philadelphia) required to participate or not? "This legislation also contains language allowing school districts to reject participation in the statewide plan within 60 days of its creation, with the approval of a majority of school board members and a majority of employees to be covered by the program," seems to give every district an opt-out if both the board and the employees could make collective decisions that quickly.

2. How will this be funded? Mandatory contributions by both the school board and the individual employees? Contributions by employees only? General state budget funds?

3. Will the state actually administer the program or will it be contracted out to existing private insurers? With all the suspicion that has largely prevented any movement on the Federal level regarding public health insurance programs, why will this one have any easier a time being passed?

Casey said...

You think this will make things easier on you? Whatever plan the state comes up with cannot possibly match the gold plated plan that Neshaminy teachers have now. They'll probably threaten to strike if you don't agree with them to opt out of the state plan.
If they do agree and it reduces costs, then the teachers will say you have no reason not to give them a big fat raise.
This is a good thing overall but it may not make your life any easier Mr. O'Connor. Sorry.