December 3, 2010

Health care article settlement reached

The Federation-led coalition of all state employee unions tonight reached tentative agreement on the health care benefits funding contract article that represents a victory in these tough economic times. But it will require more sacrifices – but not on the level the state originally proposed back in August.

Under the tentative agreement, your share of health care premiums for 2012 and 2013 would go from the current split of 88 percent paid by the state and 12 percent paid by the employee to 85/15. The 88/12 split remains for 2011.

Your team held tough and the governor’s team got the message and made significant movement off their original proposal to make you pay 26 percent and the state only 74 percent.

The state agreed to dip into two health fund reserve accounts to get to 85/15. Until now, they had not been willing to do that and insisted on the 74/26 plan.

The article now goes into all state employee contracts for 2011-2013. Negotiations on those master agreements are still in progress. If ratified, the premium changes would take place starting Jan. 1, 2012.

Also under the agreement, out-of-pocket costs for those in the Uniform Medical Plan would not change from current levels. It’s expected that Group Health and Kaiser would fall in line so those plans wouldn’t lose subscribers to the Uniform Plan.

While the health care agreement is a significant victory at a time when some politicians and editorial writers want you to pay upwards of 30 percent or more, the fact is this is an additional sacrifice. Going from 12 percent to 15 percent means the amount you pay for premiums will increase by 25 percent. But it’s not the 117 percent the governor originally proposed back in August.

Your Federation representatives on the Health Care Coalition stood strong and fought tooth and nail on Tuesday and again today (Dec. 2) to mitigate the damage as much as possible. The significant movement made off of 74/26 shows the results of their commitment.

The agreement came at about 5:20 p.m.

We expect the state as early as next week to come back to the General Government and perhaps other tables and propose additional wage cutbacks. We will wait to see what they have to propose. Republicans are pushing for a 2.5 percent across-the-board wage cut between now and July 1 alone.

All this comes because of the $5.2 billion deficit.

We’ll keep you posted.

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