Rep. Ron Mauer: Despite promise, Dems School Health Bureaucracy Increasing

[Rep. Ron Mauer Press Release]
Despite Promises Of Savings, Democrats’ School Health Bureaucracy Is Increasing Costs
Rep. Maurer Spoke Out Against Costly New Plan in 2007

GRANTS PASS- Rep. Ron Maurer (R-Grants Pass) said today that Oregon’s newest bureaucracy, the Oregon Educators Benefit Board (OEBB), is increasing costs for local school districts and educators. The facts have proved contrary to Democrats’ claims the plan would save money. “During the 2007 session, Democrats claimed this plan would put more money into the classroom,” Rep. Maurer said. “At Josephine County’s Three Rivers School District, their plan has increased insurance premiums by 13 percent. As I told House members during the debate on this issue, we are seeing the results of a politically driven issue that hurts those it was meant to help.”

Rep. Maurer recalled testimony given during committee hearings on SB 426. On Feb. 1, 2007, the Governor’s education policy adviser claimed the legislation would provide a minimum of 5 percent savings to Oregon school districts. A Senate Democrat testified that the plan “would affect smaller school districts that have more difficulty bargaining on their own for good benefits packages and rates.” The Senate Democrat added that “SB 426 takes the next step at driving more taxpayer dollars into the classroom.”

Rep. Maurer said that Three Rivers School District was recently quoted a health insurance package by PacificSource Insurance of $850 per month. Rep. Maurer said school employees will not be allowed to purchase this lower cost plan because OEBB requires districts to join the statewide pool- even at the significant financial detriment to districts or its employees.

The equivalent plan offered by OEBB will cost about $960 a month. The annual difference of over $1,300 will be paid by school employees, and not the school district. Last week, the district negotiated an $850 per month cap on health insurance costs.

“This legislation will cost the classified and administrative staff of Three Rivers School District over $300,000 this year,” Rep. Maurer said. “OEBB is a state mandate that prohibits school districts from choosing the lowest bidder.”

Rep. Maurer worked to ensure that Grants Pass School District #7 was able to remain outside of the new bureaucracy. The school district was self-insured prior to passage of the law, and the legislation allows them remain self-insured under certain conditions.

“My only regret is that I could not bring more school districts into the “˜exception language’ of SB 426 but there was no way to stop this political juggernaut,” Rep. Maurer said.