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In the final days of session, the Legislature passed a bill that they referred to as a “Cost Containment” bill. The bill had many provisions but, one that received very little scrutiny and no public hearing was a provision to no longer allow two public employees that are covered under either the state healthcare benefit plan, PEBB, or the school district health plans, OEBB, to both be covered as dependents of each other. While the bill had several good things and some that caused concerns, we opposed it due to the elimination of double coverage for members. As soon as we heard rumors of the bill we included information about it in our e-lert and asked members to call their legislators. The Bill, SB 1067, will go into effect in 2020 so, there is some time. For those that this affects, it is a hit to your benefits. It does not apply if your spouse has a job not covered by PEBB or OEBB. We will have time to consider the effects at the bargaining table but it is the law.
Some members have asked if it is legal. We are doing the research and looking into what is possible and will communicate that as soon as we have an answer. Other members have asked how this could have happened. It was part of a much larger bill that contained some provision that many folks supported. This provision was amended in in the final days of session with no public hearing and we were not given the opportunity to question it. We opposed the bill because of that provision and asked legislators to vote against it. There were very good parts of the bill including reform to how the State collects on debt that some legislators wanted to support very badly.
We fought this bill but in the end of session it was very hard to activate members and have a real impact. Going forward, we need to not only talk about the importance of PERS but also our health insurance because all levels of public employee compensation will be a target.
Here are some of the details from PEBB and OEBB.
Premium Growth Cap, Opt-Out, Double Coverage – Applies to plan years after July 2019
Plan Offered by PEBB – January 2020
Plans Offered by OEBB – October 2019-September 2020
Employees enrolled in either PEBB or OEBB as a member, are no longer eligible to enroll as a dependent under another PEBB or OEBB plan. Employees may enroll as a dependent in an employer plan that is not PEBB or OEBB.
Children may only be covered under one state plan – either through PEBB or OEBB. They may not be covered as dependents under two plans, unless one plan is through a private employer.
An employee who declines coverage under PEBB or OEBB and is enrolled as a dependent under another PEBB or OEBB plan is no longer eligible to receive “opt-out” payments.
The carriers and/or third party administrators will conduct an enrollment audit annually to ensure continued eligibility
Based on the language of the bill, it appears at this time, if an employee declines coverage under PEBB or OEBB because they are enrolled as a dependent in a private employer plan, they are still eligible for an “opt-out” payment.
The premium growth cap for both PEBB and OEBB of 3.4% is now memorialized in statute.