Sunday, June 29, 2014

Duck, teachers! Here comes the speeding silver bullet of privatization.

Posted By on Sun, Jun 29, 2014 at 4:37 PM

click to enlarge copenhaver-harold.jpg
Here we go. Roby Brock interviews Rep. Harold Copenhaver, a Jonesboro Democrat, who says the legislature will in the future be looking at privatization of school employee health insurance to solve the woes facing the expensive, imploding school side of the state self-insurance system.

Great.

I look forward to the magic math. A legislature that won't spend a dime more on school employees thinks it can cure overpriced, high-deductible school insurance by letting private industry handle it?

Does the legislature really think teachers can get better insurance for the same or less money AFTER the insurance industry takes out a profit margin of 15 percent or so?This is the same bait-and-switch Republicans have been trying to run for years on Medicare and Social Security.

Says Copenhaver (who happens to be in the commercial insurance business):

“Our idea is to look at a large institution, a medium school and a small school [grouping] and see what the private sector would have to offer to those individuals and then put it back to local government,” Copenhaver added. 

Translation: The legislature wants to wash its hands of this mess.

Notice that there's no talk of privatizing the state public employee plan, which, at last count, 82 of the 135 legislators enjoyed for its low, low rates.

Here's how it will go. Rich school districts will do OK by their employees under privatization. Small, poor ones won't.

The system already is withering because high rates have driven people out of the system. The legislature next week will shrink the pool further by tossing spouses and part-timers (though not part-timers, such as legislators, from THEIR system. Or retirees, which is a whole 'mother kettle of subsidized fish and families.)

Why not contribute  the same for insurance for every employee who's dependent on state dollars for their paychecks? That means school employees and public employees would be treated the same. Why is that so hard? (Apart from potential added expense to equalize school employees with part-time legislators.) A single pool would spread the occasional catastrophic expenses over more people.

Here's one metric to consider:

Look at the monthly contributions to the state and school plans for family coverage in the gold, or best, plan.

School employees — $593

Other state employes (think legislators) — $928. (This includes a contribution from reserves.)

Sound fair? Think school rates would be lower if school employees enjoyed the same subsidy?

What do you bet many of the legislators who endorse privatizing school insurance (but not their insurance) in the name of efficiency will say it would be cheaper and more efficient for the state to run its own broadband system for schools rather than farming it out to individual private phone companies district-by-district.

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