Archive for the ‘Health Care’ Category

Doing Something (Nothing) on NJ Health Care Costs

Per a press release from the governor’s office:

Governor Phil Murphy today announced that the Murphy Administration has reached a health care benefits agreement with labor groups, including the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA), a cost-cutting deal that will save the state and local governments nearly half a billion dollars ($496 million) in savings. The agreement includes $274 million in savings in the coming plan year for health care costs for public employees and retirees and another $222 million in year 2020 from the adoption of Medicare Advantage for both SHBP and SEHBP retirees and introduction of a new health plan focused on in-network care. The reforms were passed today through a committee-level vote on the Schools Employees’ Health Benefits Program (SEHBP) Plan Design Committee (PDC). The plan is scheduled for a final vote by the School Employees’ Health Benefits Commission (SEHBC) on Wednesday, September 19th.

According to an nj.com analysis this agreement between the unions and the politicians they bought will do three things:

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Another NJ Task Force

This one is called the “State Health Benefits Quality and Value Task Force” and consists of 16 members (list at bottom of this blog broken down between government employees, lobbyists, and union representatives) all with vested interests in keeping their own aspects of the dysfunctional status quo in place.

Though Executive Order No. 31 does have its informative and delusional parts:

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NJ Republican Pension Focus

State Senator Tom Kean Jr. (R), when asked directly what to do about the pension crisis in New Jersey, gave an answer within his two minutes of allotted time that had nothing to do with pensions:

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Sick of Murphy

A retired cop friend of mine now runs a security business with 85 employees and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy’s new sick leave law just cost him (or whoever he passes on that additional cost of doing business in New Jersey to) $50,000 a year. The law was summarized by Nixon Peabody and here are excerpts:

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Trumping Insurers

When I first started speaking out as a young actuary I had one primary focus:

Repeal Mccarran-Ferguson

Because of the power of the insurance lobby and those premium taxes paid to states for their mis-regulation that went nowhere.  Until…..

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Obeying the Law – After Getting Caught

The second paragraph of the New Jersey State Health Benefits Program handbook on eligibility reads:

Any newly appointed or elected officer will be required to work a minimum of 35 hours per week to be considered “full-time” and eligible for coverage under the SHBP/SEHBP.
Getting part-time elected officials off the benefits gravy train was one of the first initiatives of Governor Christie in 2010 but when you are dealing with elected officials often put in office by lawyers that they then hire to give them the legal opinions they want this is what you can expect:

Studying NJ Health Committees

Gov. Chris Christie’s budget address came with a public challenge to cut $250 million from state employees’ health benefits:
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According to an nj.com story today:

Finding those savings falls to the State Health Benefits Program Plan Design Committee, the 12-person panel that figures out health care plans for state government workers, and the School Employees’ Health Benefits Program Plan Design Committee, the six-member panel that establishes benefits for school retirees.

The panels — whose members are split evenly between union and Christie administration representatives — were created as part of the 2011 pension and health care reform law that hiked employee contributions up to 35 percent of the premium, depending on a worker’s salary.

Though Christie’s proposed budget assumes this $250 million in savings, the union members are quick to point out the health benefits committees are autonomous, and Christie’s authority is limited to the votes of the management members.

“We don’t work for him,” said Hetty Rosenstein, area director of the Communications Workers of America and a state workers’  committee member.

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Under state law, the committee has sole discretion over changes to employee health plans, she said. The committee’s independence was affirmed by a 2014 state appeals court ruling that said the administration overstepped when it raised retiree prescription drug copays in 2013 without consent from at least seven committee members.

Spokespeople for administration officials on the committee did not respond for requests for comment or deferred comment to the governor’s office.

So what have these committees been doing?

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