A recent poll shows healthcare costs are voters’ top financial concern. Employer and union health plans like the one I oversee at the New Jersey State Policemen’s Benevolent Association are on the front lines of this healthcare cost crisis. Collectively, these plans provide coverage for 160 million Americans. Over the last two years, our health plan costs increased by 31% to an average of $43,000 per policyholder. Today, our 30,000 active-duty police officers must pay upwards of $15,000 annually for coverage. Taxpayers pay the rest. Next year, hospital surgery costs are expected to drive our plan costs up another 15%, bringing annual premiums to nearly $50,000." This is the beginning of an Op-Ed written by Kevin Lyons in Fortune magazine as a follow-up to his well-received testimony before the US Congress. To read the entire piece, click here

The Senate President and the NJEA today announced an agreement on a deal that will create two lower cost health care plans in exchange for health care contributions based on a percentage of salary.  The details of the deal have not been released but a general review of the proposal would indicate that this would not impact or benefit State PBA members.

The proposal would permit current teachers to stay within the higher cost health care plans offered by the SEHBP.  Those teachers would still pay Chapter 78 contributions.  Teachers that select one of the 2 new lower cost health plans would pay between 3 and 7% of their salary.  One of the 2 new plans would require teachers use only New Jersey health care providers.  We are not aware at this time what level of benefits will be offered and how different they would be from the Direct 10/15 plans offered to teachers now.

Our belief based on a review of the facts presented to us is that this proposal would not benefit State PBA members or do away with the costs associated with their Chapter 78 contributions. In fact, this proposal could reduce benefits and still remain as costly for many State PBA members if applied to law enforcement. However, the Senate President has been steadfast in his commitment to work with the State PBA on our proposals for reducing the cost of health care while providing us Chapter 78 relief.

We will notify the Board of Delegates as more information becomes available as this plan moves along.