by NW Spotlight
The cost of health care for public employees in Oregon is one of the highest in the nation, and Oregon is one of the few states that pays the entire premium of public employee health care benefits.
Oregon House Republicans have introduced HB 2011 to require state employees to pay 5% of their base salaries toward their health insurance costs.
For a sense of scale in the bill’s projected savings, an Oregon Education Association (OEA) mailing this week complained about policy bills that would shift $25 million away from classrooms, which “would do long-term damage to our students.” According to the Legislative Fiscal Office, the Republicans’ HB 2011 would save $69 million in General Fund dollars this biennium alone. HB 2011 does not apply to Oregon teachers, who already contribute to their health insurance costs.
“HB 2011 offers an alternative to teacher layoffs and larger class sizes,” said Joint Ways and Means Co-Chair Dennis Richardson (R-Central Point), the bill’s chief sponsor.
Throughout the 2011 session, House and Senate Republicans have proposed a number of reforms to bring rising personnel benefits and pension costs under control. While these reforms have been rejected by legislative Democrats, Rep. Richardson says there’s still time to pass this measure and redirect the savings to critical services.
A study done by Portland State University MBA students for the Oregon Business Council in 2006 found that “the average cost of health care for public employees in Oregon is one of the highest in the nation, and Oregon is one of the few states that pays the entire premium of public employee health care benefits.”
The study showed that while State of Oregon public employees pay nothing toward their health insurance, private sector workers were paying an average of $263 a month to insure their family, and many private sector workers don’t even get the dental, vision and life insurance coverage that public employees do.
HealthCare Comparisons from the 2006 study: