Senate OKs 80/20 plan on health insurance

LANSING, Mich. — Public employees would be required to pay at least 20 percent of their health insurance premiums under legislation approved by the state Senate, while a separate bill would curtail automatic teacher wage increases once a contract has expired, according to media reports.

Sen. Mark Jansen, R-Gaines Township, said the insurance contribution would bring public-sector cost sharing in line with the private sector, where workers often pay more than 20 percent of their health insurance premium, according to Mlive. The arrangement, which also would apply to legislators, would save public employers more than $500 million annually, the report said.

Employee contributions in school districts currently vary from zero to more than 20 percent, the report said. The legislation would allow county and municipal employers to exempt themselves from the 80-20 requirement with a two-thirds vote of the governing board, according to Mlive.

Sen. John Gleason, D-Flushing, called the move a power grab that attacks the collective bargaining rights of teachers and other public employees, Mlive reported.

In related news, teachers would no longer receive automatic “step increases” under the terms of expired contracts and also would no longer be able to bargain retroactive pay increases under legislation that Gov. Rick Snyder is expected to sign, The Muskegon Chronicle reported.

The proposed law is intended to speed up negotiations on expired contracts, the report said. It also would require employees to pay any increased costs for health insurance during the time period between when a collective bargaining agreement expires and a new contract is settled.

The Muskegon Chronicle, “Teacher ‘step increases,’ retroactive wages curtailed in bill headed for Gov. Snyder,” May 18, 2011, “Michigan Senate passes bill requiring public workers to pay 20 percent of health insurance premiums,” May 18, 2011

MichiganVotes, “2011 Senate Bill 7 - Mandate 20 percent government employee health benefit contribution,” Jan. 19, 2011

MichiganVotes, “House Bill 4152 - Limit certain automatic government union employee pay hikes,” Jan. 26, 2011