Bill would require health cost sharing by public workers

LANSING, Mich. — A Senate committee has approved legislation that would require public employees to pay at least 20 percent of their health care premiums, The Kalamazoo Gazette reported.

Sen. Mark Jansen, R-Gaines Township, said the measure would reduce government spending while preserving services for taxpayers, The Gazette reported. It would apply to state and local government, K-12 school districts, community colleges and universities.

“We can’t afford what we pay and have been paying in the past,” Jansen said, according to The Gazette.  The bill is expected to be taken up by the full Senate later in April. If adopted, the bill would become mandatory on January 1 or when current union contracts expire.

Ray Holman, a member of the state employee union UAW 6000, said that health benefit costs should be decided at the bargaining table, The Gazette reported.

The Senate Fiscal Agency calculated that the measure could save more than $500 million, according to The Gazette. Gov. Rick Snyder’s 2012 budget assumes $180 million in savings by requiring state workers to pay 20 percent, up from 10 percent. He also has said school districts can save $300 million by cost-sharing for health care, The Gazette reported.

City councils and county commissions could opt out of the requirement with a two-thirds vote, according to The Gazette.

The Kalamazoo Gazette, “Health cost sharing by Michigan public workers passes first test,” April 13, 2011

Michigan Capitol Confidential, “Senate Set to Help Schools Save Health-Care Dollars,” April 14, 2011