FYI. State Employees Be Ware of this. Capitol News Originally published February 17, 2011 CAPITAL NEWS Scott's health insurance proposal would hit state workers' wallets hard 'No free ride here,' state workers told By Paul Flemming Florida Capital Bureau Print Email to a friend Subscribe Buy this photo List of 1 items * Scott rejects $2.3 billion for high-speed rail list end State employees - seven years without a general pay raise, layoffs looming and a separate proposal to require them to pay 5 percent of their salaries into pensions - also face the possibility of a massive change to their health benefits. Now, the state pays most of the health-insurance premiums for more than 140,000 active employees, including employees at agencies, universities and courts. Gov. Rick Scott wants to reduce the premium paid by the state starting in 2013. ADVERTISEMENT By capping state subsidies for health insurance at $5,000 a year, as Scott proposes, the state would save $330 million a year. For employees - more than 35,000 retirees also buy into the insurance plan themselves - it would cost thousands more a year to keep the same coverage they and their families now have. Organized labor and lawmakers alike said lower-cost options with less coverage would be offered. But, to keep current coverage: 60,101 rank-and-file state employees who insure their families would pay $9,920 a year for the same coverage with the state-contribution cap in place. Those employees pay $2,160 now. The state picks up $12,760 a year in premiums as it is. 47,597 of those same Career Service workers who now have single coverage would pay $1,598 a year in a capped system. Those employees pay $600 now. 18,804 exempt employees and senior managers would pay $9,916 for family coverage with a cap. They pay $360 now. 7,353 exempt and senior employees with policies only for themselves would pay $1,598 a year with a cap. Now, they pay $100 a year. On Wednesday, state senators heard details of what Scott proposes. The Senate's budget chief said it's only fair to bring state-worker benefits more in line with what's offered in the private sector. Sen. JD Alexander, a Lake Wales Republican, also said employee-benefit costs must be judged in the context of cuts to all other state services such as education and health care for the poor. "There's no free ride here," Alexander said. Organized labor recognizes change is coming. "There have to be changes to the state group insurance because the current design of the plan is not viable and there have been changes in the market and other things," said Doug Martin, communications director for the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees Florida Council. "However, we want a core set of benefits which is affordable." Alexander said with the lower state subsidies he'd expect state employees to consider less coverage. "I would expect employees would want to see offerings that were not as robust," Alexander said. They would probably take a much harder look at an (health savings account) plan." The AFSCME Florida Council also would want more choices for coverage, with lower-cost, less cooperage options, if a cap is implemented. "They can't mandate a platinum plan and then pay us in pewter," Martin said. More alternatives are likely. "With the Legislature's approval, (the Department of Management Services) would create additional options so employees could buy as much coverage as they needed," said Michelle Robletto, director of the state's Division of Group Insurance. "We would expect under a different plan offerings to put more focus on consumer plans, high-deductible plans." Martin said the union is set to release some studies in the coming weeks. It's been preparing intensely for a year as changes to health-insurance coverage became imminent. He said immediate savings in a tight budget year shouldn't overshadow the affect on recruitment and retention down the line or fail to consider consequences. There are also proposals to make premiums for early retirees actuarially appropriate, though with limits on how fast the cost would go up. Still, it poses possible problems for the state if they can't afford the hikes. "It's probably not in the state's interests to have thousands of retirees go on Medicaid," Martin said. "It may be saving in one part of the budget and shifting to another part of the budget." I hope this information is helpful to you. Stacia Woolverton, Executive Assistant The Governor's Commission on Disabilities 4030 Esplanade Way, Suite 260 Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0950 Phone: (850) 487-3423 Fax: (850) 414-8908 Email: Stacia.Woolverton@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx <mailto:Stacia.Woolverton@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> Website: http://www.fldisabilityinfo.com We serve those who serve Florida. 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