By Vernae Hasbargen, MREA Lobbyist
Already this year the legislature has created the health insurance exchange MNsure required by the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA). A big accomplishment. Next will be handling an issue which has been on the legislature’s plate for nearly 10 years – – teacher health insurance.
Bills have made their way through many committees and how it will be resolved is an unanswered question. One thing is certain, if passed they will impact outstate districts significantly.
HF 573 contains a mandate that school districts insuring fewer than 1,000 lives must buy their coverage from PEIP. Districts insuring more than 1,000 lives can negotiate with their staff to buy insurance from another source. The bill awaits action in the Ways & Means committee which is the last stop before a full floor debate and vote.
Senate Makes Voluntary
SF 446 is paired back significantly. It simply creates a voluntary option for districts to buy their coverage from PEIP. This isn’t so different from current law, but it’s a slight distinction in that current law focuses on employees buying coverage from PEIP and not necessarily districts buying from PEIP. This bill awaits action in the Senate Finance committee which is the same situation as the House.
Can PEIP deliver?
EdMN has testified that the organization wants for teachers what state employees have. That is moving back to an old model health plan that only contains a $50 deductible. This is simply unaffordable for most districts.
Interestingly enough, EdMN has testified that the bill won’t cost districts any more than they are currently paying. If that’s the case then employees can expect to pick up the additional premium cost for this more expensive health plan.
School district lobbyists have urged legislators to wait and see how the ACA impacts employee health care decisions before taking this step. Service Cooperatives testified that over 300 employee groups have sought bids from other insurance providers including PEIP, but 95% have stayed with the co-operatives. Forty school districts, from some of the smallest to Edina, have turned to PEIP.
Can a statewide pool deliver lower costs? Simply pooling claims together doesn’t make them cheaper. It just puts them in one pile.