Senate passes public employee benefits reform package
LANSING - The Senate Republican majority passed legislation Tuesday aimed at saving local governments and school districts money on the cost of public employee health benefits by developing optional health care pools and opening the process to competition.
"People in the 28th Senate District are doing more with less and it is time for the state and its leaders to follow their example," said Sen. Mark Jansen, R-Gaines Township. "Today was a significant step forward for Michigan. As an elected official, I feel it is my duty to make sure the state is fiscally responsible and looks for every possible cost saving measure available."
The Public Employees Health Benefit Act requires health care providers to share claims data, so employers and their employee representatives can make more informed health care choices. Competitive bidding is introduced into the process by a requirement that public employers competitively solicit at least four bids for fully insured coverage.
The reforms are estimated to save a minimum of 8 percent a year for local governments while not affecting collective bargaining. The package received the support of more than two dozen organizations, including the American Federation of Teachers and AFL-CIO.
Senate Bill 418, sponsored by Jansen, 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 package:
Allow municipal corporations to provide health care benefits under the act or under a multiple employer welfare arrangement;
Require school boards, public school academies, or intermediate school districts that offer insurance to its employees to do so under the act;
Allow a municipal corporation to provide health benefits under the act or under a multiple employer welfare arrangement; and
Require community colleges that offer health benefits to do so under the act.
If enacted, the legislation would allow statewide savings of $156 million or more. Any savings recognized by the legislation would remain at the local level.
The legislation now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Posted: Tuesday, September 04, 2007
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