Need To Dig Into Details But Initial Impression Positive
Senator Declan O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth) today praised a deal announced by Senate President Sweeney and the NJEA to overhaul health benefits, cutting costs by an estimated $1B.
Sen. Declan O’Scanlon praised a deal announced by Sen. Pres. Sweeney and the NJEA to overhaul health benefits, cutting costs by an estimated $1B. (©iStock.com)
“Ultimately, the devil is in the details but this looks like a major, long sought after victory for Sweeney, NJEA members, and–most of all–taxpayers.” said O’Scanlon.
The proposal would see the State eliminate several existing healthcare plans and introduce two lower cost options to teachers. Educators who chose those lower cost plans would benefit by paying a percentage of their salary, instead of a percentage of the premium like the other, more costly, plans.
“I’ve been advocating further health benefits reforms for many years,” O’Scanlon continued. “The reality is that without huge, multi-millions of dollars in reforms New Jersey will never be able to balance its budget. These savings will be a significant step in the right direction. Again, the details are being worked out in real time but it looks as if this deal–while not perfect–will provide substantial savings in what had become an unsustainable, bloated teachers healthcare system. The end result of these reforms will still leave our dedicated teachers with outstanding health benefits while creatively bringing costs down. Savings will accrue to both teachers and taxpayers.”
“That NJEA leadership stepped up with an open mind and did the hard work here deserves praise. We have disagreed on some of these issues for a long time. That there is significant policy movement, and resultant savings that will benefit teachers and all taxpayers, deserves a special shout out.”
Senator O’Scanlon and Senate President Sweeney have long locked arms in advocating for health benefits reform. Including sponsoring health benefits reform legislation together last year to move beneficiaries of the School Employees Health Benefits Program to the State Health Benefits Program and moving all public employees from platinum level, extraordinarily expense, benefits programs down to gold level.
“Where I do have a level of skepticism, for some of these plans, moving away from folks paying a percentage of their premium and going back to a percentage of their salary. When we enacted Chapter 78, a major round of reforms already saving hundreds of millions of dollars, one of the key accomplishments was investing employees with some skin in the game. And incentivizing their healthcare choices by providing them a significant share of savings. I look forward to examining these details.”
“If we do this right I’m hopeful, and Senator Sweeney is hopeful, that a significant level of these savings can be realized this coming year when many of our school districts are facing state aid cuts. That would be great news all the way around.”
“Again, if the details pan out as I’m hoping, I will sign onto this legislation and help secure bipartisan support.”
“In addition, we are actively advocating for the extraordinary special education funding ramp up that we worked out last year. With this additional savings it could be huge for taxpayers, school districts, and the State of New Jersey. I’m optimistic that this new level of honest cooperation can continue as we work together to solve New Jersey’s budget problems, while protecting our dedicated public workers.”