State Employees: Protect your health insurance

For state employees hired before July 1, 2003, and making more than $40,000 a year, the House Ways and Means Committee is proposing in its FY07 budget to increase your health insurance split from 15 to 20 percent.

This proposal will be considered by the House during the week of April 24.

Please contact your representative and urge support  for the amendment offered by Rep. Marty Walsh (D-Boston) – called the 85/15 amendment – to ensure that the split is 15 percent for everyone.

Background on 85/15

State employees currently pay 15 percent of the premiums for their group health insurance policies from the state. Over

Health insurance is the most valuable benefit state workers receive. This benefit is a key reason why many talented people remain in state service despite relatively low wages. It is critical  to keep this benefit affordable.

Increasing health insurance premiums from 15 percent to 20 percent is equivalent to a 33 1/3 percent increase in costs for state employees. That is a huge and very unfair burden to place on state workers.

the years, the formula for how much state employees pay for their premiums has fluctuated from  10 percent to 15 percent and temporarily up to 20 percent.

In the FY04 state budget, state employees' percentage increased temporarily to 20 percent for those earning  more than $35,000. Those earning less than $35,000 remained at 15 percent. Additionally, all employees hired after June 30, 2003, had to pay 25 percent for their group health insurance from the state.

In the FY06 state budget, this temporary change was partially remedied: All state employees hired prior to June 30, 2003, were "restored" to the 15 percent payment. “New hires" (those hired after June 30, 2003) had their premium contributions reduced from 25 percent to 20 percent. These reductions/ restorations took place as of Jan 1, 2006.

The House Ways & Means budget proposed for FY07 places all state employees earning more than $40,000 at 80/20.  Rep. Walsh has offered an amendment to restore all state employees to the 85/15 level. MTA and the entire public employee labor coalition is supporting his amendment.

Health insurance is the most valuable benefit state workers receive. This benefit is a key reason why many talented people remain in state service despite relatively low wages. It is critical  to keep this benefit affordable.

Increasing health insurance premiums from 15 percent to 20 percent is equivalent to a 33 1/3 percent increase in costs for state employees. That is a huge and very unfair burden to place on state workers.