Legislature, Commission have opportunity to save even more

Yesterday, the School Employees’ Health Benefits Commission (SEHBC) met to set plans and rates for the 2020 calendar year. Overall the rates are very favorable, with combined medical and prescription deceasing 4.5% for active employees in the SEHBP and decreasing 4.8% for non-Medicare retirees in the SEHBP. Medicare retiree rates will increase by 8.4 percent, largely as a result of a new tax imposed by the federal government.

These favorable rates are due in large part to NJEA’s advocacy on the rebidding of the medical and prescription contracts and will save the state and local employers a significant amount in the coming year. NJEA’s officers, President Marie Blistan, Vice President Sean M. Spiller and Secretary-Treasurer Steve Beatty lauded the lower rates and used the opportunity to call on the Legislature to take action to provide further savings to both employers and school employees, who continue to struggle under unsustainable health care costs imposed on public employees in 2011.

They issued this statement:

“We are very pleased to see that health insurance rates in the School Employees Health Benefits Plan are set to decrease this year. That will result in significant savings for local boards of education, as well as the state. We are proud that reforms we have championed, including a better way to bid for prescription drugs, better service delivery models and more efficient plan designs, have helped to drive down the cost of health care.

“Unfortunately, as a result of higher costs imposed on educators by Ch. 78 in 2011, NJEA members across the state continue to pay exorbitant amounts toward their health care, even as costs are set to go down. We know that those costs are pushing many educators to take second, third and even fourth jobs, while others are leaving the professional altogether. It is time for the Legislature to act and provide relief from Ch. 78, so New Jersey’s educators can focus on their most important job and also provide for their own families.

“We support reforms to Ch. 78 that will result in additional savings for employers and much-needed relief for employees and we know that can be achieved while maintaining high quality health insurance coverage. We call on the Legislature to pass A5814, a Ch. 78 relief bill that will increase the savings achieved today and, at the same time, make a career in New Jersey’s public schools economically viable again.”

A5814, introduced by Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, would generate at least $300 million in additional savings for the state and local employers, while also reducing the costs borne by school employees as a result of Ch. 78.

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