@NCCapitol

@NCCapitol

NC teachers at odds with state workers over health plan changes

Posted March 22, 2011
Updated March 23, 2011

Updated below with statement from SEANC.

The Senate Appropriations committee is expected to vote Wednesday morning on S265, a bill that started out as a five-page proposal to change the oversight of the State Health Plan, but turned into a 46-page program overhaul as of Monday night.

The AP has the details, but in a nutshell, S265 would impose premiums on state employees for their health care for the first time. State workers pay a hefty premium to insure family members, but they pay nothing for their own coverage. In addition, the bill would raise co-pays and cut benefits to bridge what lawmakers say is a $515 million gap in program funding.

But the measure would also give the state employees’ union some things they want. It would do away with higher premiums for smokers and obese people, including the potential for future body-mass tests for state workers. It would move oversight of the plan from the legislature to the executive branch (the Treasurer’s office, specifically). And it would make future contracts between the plan and insurers public record. The plan’s current arrangement with Blue Cross is not. Sen. Tom Apodaca Sen. Apodaca on State Health Plan changes

Senator Tom Apodaca says the bill’s writers were talking to the state employees’ group (SEANC) as they worked on the proposal. 

SEANC spokesperson Ardis Watkins said, "This is a 45-page bill. There are parts of it we don’t like. Like increasing the premium – we’ve always been vocal about that. That being said, the governor put the premium increase out there."

"What this bill does do, however, is every piece of reform we feel is absolutely necessary if the state health plan is going to survive long-term," Watkins said. “This bill stops sweetheart no-bid contracts that the legislature can dole out to whoever they feel like.  We might not be able to agree with everything in this bill, but we felt that the importance of those items can’t be diminished simply by the fact that there’s a premium in there." NCAE lobbyist Brian Lewis on State Health Plan changes  NCAE lobbyist Brian Lewis on State Health Plan changes

Another group, the NC Association of Educators, has come out against it. Spokesman Brian Lewis says teachers will not support the proposal.

Lewis says he wasn't allowed to speak for NCAE at Tuesday morning's Senate Insurance debate on S265, but has been told he'll be able to comment on it Wednesday morning in Senate Appropriations. That meeting starts at 8:00 in Room 643 of the Legislative Office Building.

 

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  • academy94 Mar 31, 2011

    THERE IS NO "state employees’ union" SO THE MEDIA SHOULD STOP USING THIS TERM.

    So really what the state is doing by making the workers pay each month for their insurance, is giving them a pay cut. They always tell us that our insurance is part of our "total compensation" so this fee is a pay cut after years of no raises.

  • suncat Mar 28, 2011

    Why are we (state employees) only given one choice of health insurer? In the past, we had as many as ten! Open this up for competition and let us choose a provider that best fits our needs!

  • redspringssean Mar 25, 2011

    nything25 Just wondering if you are a Yankee transplant given your handle? If so, I understand why you left the North due to the high taxes and all but unless you've been employed by the State of NC you frankly don't know what you are talking about. The problem here is that the State Health Plan has been a broken system for a long time. This so-called fix of charging for individual health coverage does not actually solve anything and State employees realize it's only the beginning of a continuing upward spiral of costs that will just be handed over to them to pay for. The SHP has done nothing to try to control costs because its' benefactor BCBS a so-called "non-profit" has no-incentives to keep costs down because the more that is charged for a service the more they receive. Frankly, it would be better if the $450 paid to the SHP were instead given to the employee to purchase their own health insurance because in most cases someone off the street can purchase much better.

  • nything25 Mar 25, 2011

    It is remarkable how we can use self-righteousness to attack greater good. Teachers, maybe you get it and maybe you need a lesson in civics and economics. When the till is broke, there is no money to pay for your subsidies. If the conditions in the public schools are so bad, look for jobs with a private school and cross your fingers. If you can't find a job in the private sector, count yourselves blessed that you still have a job...far too many people don't these days. Your "plight" falls on deaf ears when you complain about losing a benefit that most of us never had. As a parent, it is disconcerting that the people responsible for my children's education are up in arms about the same things I face as a private-sector worker. As a taxpayer who sees far too many people out of work, if you don't like what you're getting, get out and let someone else take the job. We're all taking a hit, suck it up.

  • dprov356 Mar 25, 2011

    Just one comment here. Teachers are paid our of tax dollars just as state employees. We are all government employees.

    We do not get pay raises or annual bonus like you do. We got furloughs just like you. I pay for some office supplies too.

    Remember we are all government employees... teachers are no better.

  • piedmontinsp Mar 24, 2011

    Let's see, just July 1,2008 I understand copays increased by 1/3. Now they are going up AGAIN? With all the supplies paid out of pocket by teachers and other State employees and the small salaries they are paid vs private sector I am becoming embarrased as a resident of NC for what is expected of public servants. Tobacco money is smelling better and better. Just took a little over a year for that General Statute to bite us in the butt. Of course, part of it is the decline in sales tax because people can't go sit with friends at eating establishments anymore. Yee haw!

  • Paladin Mar 24, 2011

    Suddenly NCAE has problems with the State Health Plan. Interesting. When former Senate Majority Leader introduced legislation to increase state workers' co-pays, deductibles and premiums for dependent coverage, the ONLY organization that had a lobbyist speak against the bill was the State Employees Association of North Carolina. NCAE lobbyists were silent. Now NCAE is spreading the lie that SEANC cut a deal by agreeing to employees paying part of their health insurance premiums in exchange for moving oversight of the health plan from the General Assembly. SEANC (alone) has been working diligently to move oversight of the health plan from the Legislature but is vehemently opposed to any increase in state employees' health benefits. SEANC delivered a report to the Legislature that contained 10 billion dollars of cost savings without furloughing or laying off any state workers. Where are NCAE's suggestions? NCAE continously speaks of protecting teachers' and educators' benefits with no re

  • avidreader Mar 24, 2011

    Fight for what is rightfully yours? What right? Show me where that right is given.

  • Malatesting123 Mar 24, 2011

    To ALL TEACHERS (and noone else) : My wife is a teacher. IF you are one, I understand everything you are going through. Pay cuts. Furloughs. Step Freezes. Oversized classrooms. Job Cuts. Standardized testing. Parental Abuse. Nonresponsive bureaucracy. Hostile community members.....Now all of this. My one question is this. How long until we, the teachers and family members who support them, make the decision to finally say enough, organize, and fight for what is rightfully yours? Do you wait until you are made paupers, or your beloved profession is destroyed? To all the teachers, the arguments against organization mean nothing. "Right to Work" state, all of that, means nothing. 100,000 teachers on the streets of the capital, like in Wisconsin, is a force that MUST be reckoned with, no matter what the laws say. They are coming for your healthcare. They are coming for your pay. They are coming for your Pension and your ability to provide for your family. Its time to act.

  • teklc Mar 24, 2011

    Our co pays have already increased, benefits have already been dropped. Before TOO long people won't be able to afford to go to the Doctor and The State will be paying out Death benefits

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