State Commission Votes to Hike Rates for Public Sector Workers

The State Health Benefits Commission today voted 3-1-1 in favor of hiking by nearly 20 percent the amount public sector state workers will contribute next year to their health insurance premiums.

According to Aon Insurance:

The state 2023 active specialist copays for the CWA plans increased $15 higher than the current; increased urgent pays to $30 higher. The new adjusted premium for PTOs and HMOs increase is 21.1%.

The total active increase for state workers will be 19.6%.

Local government workers saw total increases of between 20.9% and 21.6%.

Horizon did not participate in the meeting.

Commissioner Dudley Burdge protested.

Chair Danielle Schimmel said, “Horizon and all the vendors have been intimately involved” through the process. “Horizon has provided all the info for the rate setting process.”

“This is far out of line from what is seen elsewhere,” said Burdge (an abstention, who said he would have favored the state hike but not the local hike), who expected an exodus of workers from the ranks of local government.

“We were promised by the division that we were going to have a discussion,” the commissioner added. “We’re seeing not as much as 20% but certainly a significant increase.”

A day after public sector workers protested the rate hike, Burdge repeatedly protested the process, but the commission proceeded anyway.

“There was an understanding we were going to vote on the state and local rates,” the commissioner added.

But the commission voted on both together.

Commissioner Jennifer Higgins registered the lone “no” vote – “Absolutely not,” she said.

Below please find a statement by the Unions regarding the State Health Benefits Program in New Jersey:
“AFSCME Council 63, CWA, IFPTE Local 195, the New Jersey Council of State College Locals, AFT, and IBEW Local 33 are pleased to announce that they have reached an agreement with the State to ensure that State employees continue to have access to high quality and affordable healthcare plans.  “By engaging in the collective negotiations process, the Unions and the State have successfully reduced the increases in employee healthcare contributions from 18% to 3% this year, coupled with certain modest changes in the design of the State’s healthcare plans, resulting in a more affordable option. “The Unions, together with the Governor, whose engagement on this issue was vital to the successful conclusion of negotiations, have forged an agreement on healthcare that benefits union members and their families by avoiding unaffordable cost increases.”

Editor’s Note: Reporter Bob Hennelly took the photo above at the public sector worker rally in Trenton on Tuesday. His coverage of that rally can be accessed here.



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