Thursday, March 31, 2011

Voice for Health Benefits

There is much attention on educator and state worker benefits this year. The State and the public employee unions have been engaged in a long and grueling process of exploring and agreeing upon cost saving measures for health care and pension. The final package from this process is close to completion.

Meanwhile, an important bill that gives educators and state workers a voice in decisions regarding their health plan, silently moved forward yesterday. Senate Bill 34 was voted out of the Senate Health and Social Services committee.

Senate Bill 34, sponsored by Senator Blevins, expands the current State Employees Benefits Committee (SEBC). The SEBC is the governing body for the health plan which insures educators and state workers. The SEBC makes decisions about premium rates and the plan benefits. Currently the SEBC has seven members: Director of Office Management and Budget, Insurance Commissioner, State Treasurer, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Controller General,Secretary of Finance, and Secretary of Health and Social Services.

SB 34 would take the SEBC to nine members. The Governor will appoint two positions from a choice of four: President of DSEA, President of Delaware State Troopers Association, Executive Director of AFSCME, or President of Correctional Officers Association of Delaware. The terms will be for three years and no one can be appointed for more than two consecutive terms.

Stakeholders deserve a voice and a vote in the governance of their own health plan. Moreover, the public unions in Delaware have demonstrated that they are a responsible partner in the preservation of affordable benefits. Congratulations to Senator Blevins on a fine piece of legislation.

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