Bill to help districts with insurance costs heads to Senate floor
Monday, June 17, 2019
The Legislature passed a bill in 2017 to prohibit incentive payments for employees who opt out of double-coverage under state health insurance plans. School districts and public employee representatives have worked since then to change the law.
House Bill 2266 would reinstate the incentive option. It cleared the Senate Rules Committee on Wednesday.
HB 2266 “will restore a necessary tool to districts, mitigate unanticipated employee cost sharing, and relieve PEBB and OEBB from an onerous implementation process,” said House Speaker Tina Kotek in submitted testimony.
The 2017 law came out of a legislative work group examining potential state cost reductions. Among other things, the law would have discontinued in 2020 the ability of employees with potential double coverage under the Public Employees’ Benefit Board or Oregon Educators Benefit Board to decline double coverage, or “opt out,” and receive a payment. The changes were expected to reduce PEBB and OEBB health care costs.
School districts and public employees didn’t like the changes. Many public employees rely on the opt-out payments to augment their pay. School districts actually save money through opt-out payments, which cost less than offering full coverage, testified OSBA Legislative Services Director Lori Sattenspiel.
The bill next moves to the House floor for a vote. OSBA, the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators and public sector unions strongly support passage.