Senators sponsor bills to control public health care costs
LANSING — Three cost-controlling measures designed to help ensure taxpayer dollars are spent more efficiently were recently introduced in the Michigan Senate, said sponsors Sen. Mark C. Jansen and Sen. Alan Sanborn.
Senate Bills 1046 and 1047 and Senate Joint Resolution P are short- and long-term cost-controlling measures for the state, schools, local units of government, and colleges and universities.
“These reform measures will help all public employers, like local governments and schools, manage the skyrocketing costs of health care benefits and any savings will stay with the public employers,” said Jansen, R-Gaines Township, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
The first two bills would require all employees who receive benefits from a publicly funded health insurance plan to contribute 15 or 20 percent to their health care costs.
SB 1046, sponsored by Jansen, would limit the portion of health insurance benefits public employers pay to no more than 80 percent of the premium cost or a maximum of 85 percent if the benefits include wellness incentives and a health savings account. This would include benefits for elected officials, noncivil service state employees, legislative employees, local public employees and community college employees.
According to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, health savings accounts are designed to help individuals save for future qualified medical and retiree health expenses on a tax-free basis.
More than half of Indiana state government employees have a health savings account. Since introducing innovative consumer-driven plans to state employees, Indiana has saved an estimated $42 million, said the state’s Assistant General Counsel Anita Samuel.
Joseph Antos of the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. believes Michigan taxpayers could save hundreds of millions of dollars while state employees receive good health care options under a consumer-directed plan.
Senate Majority Leader Michael D. Bishop, R-Rochester, fully supports the Senate Republican plan.
“This is critical legislation for Michigan’s future,” Bishop said. “It will not only save taxpayer dollars but assure that all public employees have an affordable and quality health care option. We need solutions that create lower spending and more savings for public employee health care and these bills accomplish just that.”
Jansen’s SJR P would amend the Michigan Constitution to establish uniform cost allocation requirements for health benefits for public employees, including state civil service and university employees.
SB 1047, sponsored by Sanborn, would allow local units of government to offer their employees the same health insurance benefits available to state employees.
“Residents who work in cities and townships are public employees too and as such should enjoy the cost reductions of statewide health plans,” said Sanborn, R-Richmond Township. “This should translate into savings for everyone.”
SBs 1046 and 1047, and SJR P have been referred to the Senate Government Operations and Reform Committee for further consideration.
Posted: Tuesday, December 22, 2009
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