Senate leaders substituted language in an old House bill (HB578) with another version of changes to the State Health Plan. The House approved the changes and the bill was sent by special messenger to Governor Perdue. Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) says he and other leaders met with Governor Perdue and she agreed to the new version. It is similar to the bill vetoed by the Governor with a distinct exception. The new bill allows the State Health Plan to use cash reserves of about $40 million to offer free health insurance coverage under a 70/30 plan for one year. While an individual employee wouldn’t pay a premium that worker would pay a higher co-pay. The option could be continued to 2013 if the board of trustees can find the funds to support it.
Oversight of the State Health Plan would be moved to the State Treasurer’s office, which now oversees the pension plan.
There is one problem. State employees have 22 days to finish re-enrolling in the State Health Plan under the old rules. Many have already signed up. Those old rules included admitting to smoking which put an employee into a 70/30 plan. The same would apply to overweight workers.
Artis Watkins with the State Employees Association of North Carolina says that means the state will have to open a new enrollment period for those who have already signed up. She says that could cost up to $20 million in administrative expense and money lost in the lag time.