Senate Bill 265 is one step closer to being sent to Gov. Perdue’s desk. The bill, which passed its second House vote by 64-51, is expected to be approved by the House today in its third and final vote. After that, it will be returned to the Senate for one final vote, then on to Perdue for her approval.
SB 265 would for the first time require state employees and retirees to pay a share of the premium costs for enrollment in the State Health Plan. As this WRAL article describes:
Senate Bill 265 would cut benefits, raise deductibles and co-pays by around 17 percent and charge workers a monthly insurance premium for individual coverage for the first time.
Employees and teachers could opt for less coverage at around $11 a month or better coverage for $22 a month. Retirees could choose the lower-level coverage for free, but they too would have to pay the $22 premium for the better plan.
Up until now, state employees and retirees were enrolled in the State Health Plan with no premiums. The SHP had experienced significant fiscal troubles of late, and estimates suggest the plan is facing a funding gap of half a billion dollars over the next two budget years. Furthermore, the unfunded liability for retiree obligations in the SHP is a staggering $33 billion – and growing fast.
Asking for state employees and retirees to share a small percentage of their premium costs is a fiscally prudent move, and is something that should have been done long ago in order to reduce the hefty financial burden placed on taxpayers to cover these benefits.
SB 265 also includes measures to shift oversight of the plan to the State Treasurer’s office and to provide more transparency regarding the state’s contract with Blue Cross and others administering the SHP.