Voters prefer state employees pay higher premiums
With the North Carolina General Assembly set to reconvene on Wednesday, one of the first challenges it will face is fixing the fundamental insolvency of the State Health Plan (SHP), the primary health insurance program for state employees. The SHP is estimated to be underfunded by at least $300 million in 2009-2010, and program administrators are clamoring for immediate attention in order to be able to pay its operating costs.
Voters do not view this circumstance as a priority for them, as a new poll released today by Civitas Institute shows any newly presented proposed fix by lawmakers to the current program may not be popular with voters.
One rumored solution legislators are exploring is using part of the more than $800 million available in the state “Rainy Day Fund.” However, when poised with the question on how to solve the problem, voters said they prefer state employees pay increased health insurance premiums, rather than using taxpayer dollars to bailout the system.
Fifty percent of voters said to raise premiums on state employees while 27 percent said they felt taxpayer funds should be used to fill the gap. Twenty-three percent of registered voters said they were unsure of the proper solution.
“With the specter of a $2 billion budget shortfall looming, voters in North Carolina feel state employees should carry the load of fixing their own health plan,” stated Francis De Luca, Civitas executive director. “As the economy has tightened, North Carolinians have to assume a greater share of the cost of health insurance. It appears that voters think state employees should not be exempt from that cost sharing.”
The Civitas Poll is the only monthly live-caller poll of critical issues and policies facing North Carolina. Complete results of the poll will be released at noon on Thursday, Jan. 29 at the Clarion Hotel in downtown Raleigh during the monthly poll luncheon hosted by Civitas.
Full text of question:
“The plan that funds the health insurance for state employees is underfunded by approximately $300 million. Do you think the shortage should be paid by raising premiums on state employees’ insurance plan options or by using taxpayer dollars to fill the gap?”
State Employees Pay – 50%
Taxpayers Pay – 27%
Not Sure – 23%
The study of 600 registered voters was conducted January 19-22, 2009. All respondents were part of a fully representative sample of registered voters in North Carolina. For purposes of this study, voters we interviewed had to have voted in either the 2004, 2006 or 2008 general elections or were newly registered voters since 2008.
The confidence interval associated with a sample of this size is such that:
95% of the time, results from 600 interviews (registered voters) will be within +-4% of the “True Values.” “True Values” refer to the results obtained if it were possible to interview every person in North Carolina who had voted in either the 2004, 2006 or 2008 general elections or were newly registered voters since 2008.