State Worker Health Care Costs

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State Worker Health Care Costs

Postby swamper on Sat May 03, 2008 10:36 pm

House rejects bid to up share of state workers' health costs
By Matt Murphy, mmurphy@lowellsun.com
Article Last Updated: 05/03/2008 12:44:19 PM EDT

BOSTON -- A plan to make state employees pay a greater share of their health benefits got shot down in the House yesterday and appears headed for a similar fate in the Senate despite concerns of a tightly balanced budget.

By retreating from the effort by Gov. Deval Patrick to establish a new tiered system that would have left the least compensated state employees unharmed, lawmakers tossed aside about $48 million in new revenue that the governor and House leadership hoped to use to bridge the state's $1.3 billion budget gap.

The governor's plan, which was included in the original House budget proposal and supported by House Speaker Sal DiMasi, would have also driven up health-insurance costs for the legislators themselves.

"We believe this was an important reform that struck the right balance of shared sacrifice during difficult economic times and we are disappointed that the House failed to pass it," said Leslie Kirwin, secretary of Administration and Finance.

The proposal was rejected unanimously as part of consolidated budget amendment dealing with state administration.

Similar plans are frequently discussed during budget season, but are almost always defeated. The governor's plan this year was greeted with immediate resistance from labor unions across the state and a majority of lawmakers.

"It would have been unfair to burden the faculty at our state colleges and UMass with a sizable and unfair pay cut, which was originally packaged as a solution to the state's budget deficit," said Anne Waas, president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association. "There are certainly better ways to address our state's fiscal problems than by forcing state employees to pay up to 67 percent more for health insurance."

The MTA was part of coalition of unions working together to oppose the budget provision.

A letter signed by 108 House members in opposition to the premium increase was also delivered to House Ways and Means Chairman Robert DeLeo after the release of the House budget.

"Traditionally state salaries are lower than the private sector, so this would pretty much be a double-edged sword for the state employees," said Rep. Thomas Golden, a Lowell Democrat. "I think this is prudent. We need to keep good employees in the state and a solid health-care plan."

Most state employees now pay 15 percent of their health-insurance costs, with the state picking up the other 85 percent. Patrick and the House budget proposed increasing that contribution to 20 percent for employees who make from $35,000 to $50,000 per year and to 25 percent for employees who make more than $50,000.

Those who make less than $35,000 per year would have continued to contribute 15 percent, and about 6,000 employees who currently contribute 20 percent but make less than $35,000 per year would have actually received a 5 percent reduction in their contribution.

About 58,000 of the state's 80,000 employees would pay slightly higher premiums, 16,000 would see no change and about 6,000 would actually pay a lower rate.

There would be about 37,000 people would see their insurance costs climb by 10 percent.

Senate President Therese Murray has also stated publicly that her chamber has little appetite for raising health-insurance costs on state employees.

The House yesterday continued moving through its budget debate having added more than $110 million to the bottom line of its $28 billion budget with the possibility of wrapping up late last night.
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State Worker Health Care Costs

Postby sean_czarniecki on Sun May 04, 2008 9:10 am

...and there you have it. The system will not change at the state level, because the people vote on their own benefits and will not reduce them. Therefore, the state will continue to look for new ways to tax the residents to cover the benefits. Money that used to come back to towns now gets used to cover those benefits.

Without any changes at the state level, towns will continue to require overrides every few years.
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State Worker Health Care Costs

Postby murphys4 on Sun May 04, 2008 11:13 am

This sort of stuff really burns me up.

Hey, everyone in state/town government - go out into the private sector and see what you would be paying. Don't think you would be complaining too much then! Go out into the private sector and see if you can find a company that still offers pension plans.

It's this sense of "entitlement" that will continue to eat up state and local budgets, leaving taxpayers to pick-up the slack.

Crap rolls downhill everyone. FED reduces aid to states because they will not reign in spending/State reduces aid to towns because they will not reign in spending/Towns reduce services because they will not reign in spending.

Guess who is at the bottom of the hill... The taxpayers!

For my small part in this process - NO OVERRIDE! [img]images/smiles/icon_mad.gif[/img] [img]images/smiles/icon_mad.gif[/img] [img]images/smiles/icon_mad.gif[/img]
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State Worker Health Care Costs

Postby murphys4 on Sun May 04, 2008 4:12 pm

Not whining Barney - have just had enough! I am lucky enough to have a good job that pays well and has decent benefits.

Having said that, am I just to stand around and feel good about having my pocket picked over and over again while some government employee "whines and moans" about a modest increase in their benefit contribution rate?

Sorry but I have had enough. If people don't like hearing that - oh well there is nothing I can do about it - except vote NO on an override.
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State Worker Health Care Costs

Postby TimW on Sun May 04, 2008 9:03 pm

Barney,

Same goes for government employees. If they don't want to work for the government if they have to pay more for their healthcare, then they don't have to. They can quit a get a better job. No one is holding them there.

That said, it's the pensions that are really the issue. That's what really needs to be fixed. We could afford to pay the government employees a higher wage, if we weren't in the current system of having two to three employees on the payroll for every one that's presently employed.
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State Worker Health Care Costs

Postby barney on Mon May 05, 2008 12:15 am

I really don't understand some of the posts here. Let me first start by saying, do I think public service employees should pay another 5% to their healthcare? YES, WITHOUT QUESTION, ABSOLUTELY.

That being said, having been at work in the DPS (dreaded private sector) for well over 30 years, I don't get the "woe is me" complex of so many posters here.

Examples: "I haven't had a raise in years" or "my healthcare is 40-50%" or "my health plan stinks, I have no dental, vision, etc." and so on.

Here's an idea, how about changing jobs. The few times I have made a switch it has been for more money, better benefits, quality of living. You need to take care of yourself cuz no one else will. I have proven time and again that I am not the brightest bulb on the Xmas tree, so if I can do it, no excuse for anyone else to stay in a bad spot.

A lot of people need to look in the mirror. Are you where you are cuz the job market isnt so hot, or maybe because you isnt so hot? Stop whining and make a change.
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State Worker Health Care Costs

Postby sean_czarniecki on Mon May 05, 2008 12:27 am

Barney,

I agree with you to a point. We could all try to switch jobs to get better benefits. The issue to me is that nobody is controlling the costs in government. Why would our representatives vote to reduce their own benefits? Nobody gets rid of them at voting time.... Just keep coming back to the residents to get more money.
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