State employees object to school insurance proposal | Arkansas Blog

Friday, June 27, 2014

State employees object to school insurance proposal

Posted By on Fri, Jun 27, 2014 at 11:57 AM

The Arkansas State Employees Association, which represents roughly 16,000 state employees, has belatedly raised objections to the shape of the school employee insurance legislation that has consensus support at next week's special session.

Big wrinkle that I had missed until now: The legislature apparently intends to put those on the state employees insurance plan under the same new rule being applied to school employees as a cost-cutting measure. Spouses of both classes of state employees now covered by state insurance will be required to be insured at their workplace if the insurance is available. The discussion had focused on impact on those covered by school insurance.

A news release from Danny James, director of the ASEA said:

Each special session that is planned to address public school employees continues to negatively impact state employees. Unfortunately reports regarding the special session have left out state employees who face spouses being removed from plans, higher premium costs and added deductibles.

"It's unfortunately that state employees are considered as an afterthought," said Executive Director, Danny James. "The state employee plan is not bankrupt at this time. Changes can be made during the regular session to ensure that the state employee insurance plan remains solvent. The special session, we feel, inappropriate for our plan that is currently doing well."

During the fiscal session state employees were denied a COLA. If received, however; the one percent that was proposed was not sufficient to cover the premium increase and deductible. On behalf of state employees, we urge legislators not to remove spouses from the state employee plan and find a way to fund the COLA.

I feel James' pain, as a spouse of a retired state employee who's covered on the state plan rather than my company's own plan, which — despite a company contribution — is less coverage for  more money. Fair is fair, though. The state puts more money into the state employees plan. As a result, it's had broader participation. Costs have driven members out of the beggared school plan.

I've said all along it's not fair to treat two groups of public employees differently. I think a better way to correct this is to equalize by improving those disadvantaged, not  by punishing everyone. I'd say this even if I didn't face a cost myself. I can afford it — plus Medicare is just around the corner for me. But many state employees cannot. The insurance coverage is an incentive for some to work for the state at lower pay. James raises, too, the difficulties of a forced switch for someone in the middle of ongoing and expensive medical treatment.

When last I checked, 82 legislators — part-time workers essentially — enjoyed the Cadillac state insurance coverage. Wonder how many have working spouses who'll be having to come up with new insurance?

The state employee plan will continue to cover part-time workers, though the school insurance plan will not.

Many couples in the state have one spouse in each system. Will a teacher covered by a spouse's better state plan now be forced to take school insurance? As I understand it, a higher cost, inferior plan isn't an excuse.

Given the legislative process, I'd bet there's a scant chance for the public employees to stop this train next week.

Tags: , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Comments (18)

Showing 1-18 of 18

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-18 of 18

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • An open line for Sunday

    An open line.
    • Sep 24, 2017
  • City plans more spending on 30 Crossing

    The Little Rock City Board meets Tuesday to set an agenda for the following week and among the "consent" items is a new $175,000 with Nelson/Nygaard consultants to "assist with a comprehensive review" of the 30 Crossing project, otherwise known as the bigger concrete ditch the Department of Transportation wants to tear through the heart of Little Rock.
    • Sep 24, 2017
  • NFL owners rise to defense of players against Trump and false patriots

    Many football team owners have risen to the defense of players against Donald Trump criticism as yet another racially fraught issue seems likely to gain increasing heat thanks to Trump's rhetoric.
    • Sep 24, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Auditor Lea caught not telling the truth

    State Auditor Andrea Lea, who began her tenure in statewide office with a degree of competence unseen in some other Republican counterparts (think Treasurer Dennis Milligan particularly), is becoming more deeply mired in a political scandal.
    • Mar 4, 2016
  • Another Republican miracle-working governor

    Great piece in Washington Post on the budget crisis in Louisiana. Big tax cuts and corporate welfare will do that to a state, particularly to a state whose previous governor, Republican Bobby Jindal, refused to join the Obamacare-funded Medicaid expansion. There's a lesson there for Arkansas.
    • Mar 4, 2016
  • Charter school accountability: Non-existent in Arkansas

    A state audit finds charter school spending violated state law, but the state Education Department says it has no responsibility for ensuring proper management of charter schools. Say what?
    • Mar 5, 2016

Most Shared

  • ASU to reap $3.69 million from estate of Jim and Wanda Lee Vaughn

    Arkansas State University announced today plans for spending an expected $3.69 million gift in the final distribution of the estate of Jim and Wanda Lee Vaughn, who died in 2013 and 2015 respectively.
  • Bad health care bill, again

    Wait! Postpone tax reform and everything else for a while longer because the Senate is going to try to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act one more time before September ends and while it can do it with the votes of only 50 senators.
  • Sex on campus

    Look, the Great Campus Rape Crisis was mainly hype all along. What Vice President Joe Biden described as an epidemic of sexual violence sweeping American college campuses in 2011 was vastly overstated.
  • The inadequate legacy of Brown

    LRSD continues to abdicate its responsibility to educate poor black students.

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation