Unions testify in support of Sen. Jansen's legislation allowing locals to save on health care costs
LANSING - The Senate Local, Urban and State Affairs Committee passed legislation Tuesday to help public employers reduce the increasing cost of employee health care by developing optional medical benefits pools and requiring health care providers to share claims data to increase competition.
"The cost of health care increases drastically each year and we need to do everything we can to help reduce the burden on employers," said Sen. Mark Jansen, R-Gaines Township. "This vital legislation will maintain a high level of benefits for employees, while reducing health care costs to schools and local units of government."
Under this proposal, employers could save a minimum of 8 percent per year on health care costs without reducing health care benefits or coverage for employees.
"Health care costs are skyrocketing, and that results in a reduction of health benefits - hurting our families and children," said David Hecker, president of AFT Michigan. "This legislation seeks to maintain benefit levels, improve quality and control costs, which is good for everyone."
Health insurance rates have seen double-digit increases each year from 2000 to 2006. Ken Fletcher, legislative director of the Michigan AFL-CIO, believes the proposed Public Employee Health Care Benefit Act will help decrease costs for local governments and schools across the state.
"This is a common-sense proposal that will address escalating health care costs, while protecting collective bargaining rights," Fletcher said.
Public employers will be required to competitively solicit four bids for fully insured coverage and provide a case management program. The legislation will not require public employers to change where and how they purchase health benefits, lower employee benefit levels or affect collective bargaining.
Sponsored by Jansen, Senate Bill 418, would allow units of government to pool medical, dental and optical benefits, and provide for increased access to claims and health care provider data.
Other bills in the reform package would require school boards, public school academies, intermediate school districts and community colleges that offer insurance to its employees, to do so under PEHBA. The legislation also would allow a municipal corporation to provide health benefits under PEHBA or under a multiple employer welfare arrangement.
Posted: Tuesday, May 22, 2007
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