More groups back statewide health plan

LANSING, Mich. - Support is growing for the idea of consolidating public employee health care into one statewide plan, the Lansing State Journal reported, with associations of school boards, school administrators and school business officials now backing the proposal.

House Speaker Andy Dillon, D-Redford Township, said he expects to introduce draft legislation in August that would convert hundreds of local-level agreements into a state-level plan, potentially saving up to $900 million a year, according to the report.

The Michigan Education Association continues to criticize the proposal, according to the Michigan Information & Research Service, as does Lt. Gov. John Cherry, a likely Democratic gubernatorial candidate in 2010.

But state Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Flanagan supports the idea as a way to drive more dollars into the classroom, a Michigan Department of Education spokesman told MIRS. The Michigan Association of School Boards, Michigan Association of School Administrators and Michigan School Business Officials are among a dozen school-related associations that also support the proposal, according to the Journal.

"It's time to take politics out of the equation and do what's best for Michigan's children," William Mayes, executive director of the Michigan Association of School Administrators, said at a Tuesday press conference, according to the Journal.

MEA spokesman Doug Pratt told MIRS that school employees already have saved as much as $700 million for schools in recent years on health insurance and that the state should instead close tax loopholes and wait for national health care reform.

Dillon said teachers unions still would have a role in bargaining the state-level health plan, the Journal reported.

Lansing State Journal, "Public worker health plan gains support," July 29, 2009

Michigan Information & Research Service, "Flanagan, Cherry split on Dillon plan," July 29, 2009 (Subscription required)

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "On Balance, School Health Insurance Proposal an Improvement," July 27, 2009