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Tuesday, January 04, 2011
$126M Giveaway: Abercrombie quietly boosts spending on Public Employees’ Insurance
By News Release @ 3:50 PM :: 7676 Views :: Energy, Environment

Governor Abercrombie and Unions Agree to an Increase in Employer’s Contribution to the EUTF

From UHPA Newsroom  (There is no announcement of this agreement on Gov. Abercrombie’s website www.hawaii.gov/gov.)

A note from Executive Director J.N. Musto:

After a series of meetings (see my November 20th report) with Governor Abercrombie, a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was signed on December 23rd, 2010 that increased the employer’s contribution to 60% of the premium costs for the coverage selected by individual public employees.  Click here to view the MOA, and Exhibit A with the premium payment amounts.  These increases take effect on March 1, 2011, and correspond to the new premium rates for the HMA, HMSA, and Kaiser plans, and the other health insurance coverage options.

I am extremely pleased with Governor Abercrombie’s immediate response to the crisis that developed over the last two years when the State administration refused any contributed increase funding in the face of double digit premium increases that ended up being borne completely by all public employees.  The Governor deserves our collective recognition for his taking this decisive action.

The EUTF has begun an open enrollment period for all public employees to change their selection of health insurance coverage.  A schedule of informational briefings has been posted on the EUTF website http://www.eutf.hawaii.gov/ under 2011 Open Enrollment Information.  These changes will take effect March 1, 2011.

Despite the Hawaii State Teachers’ Association filing a law suit against the EUTF to prevent the DOE teachers from having to participate in the EUTF, as provided by law, the EUTF Trustees on December 23rd extended the Open Enrollment for current active and retired public employees to those teachers wishing to participate in a EUTF health insurance benefit plan.  The EUTF has sent a memo to all teachers describing the EUTF’s response to the law suit and the judge’s order.  The Attorney General is appealing the judge’s order, despite his refusal to grant an injunction to prevent the teachers from having to return to the EUTF.

Click to view the unofficial 2011 BU07 EUTF Contribution worksheet.

Click to view the unofficial comparison of the current BU07 employee contributions and the 2011 BU07 employee contributions worksheet.

---30---

 

Civil Beat Jan 4, 2011: Abercrombie last month agreed to increase the state's contribution for health benefits to a 60-40 employer-to-employee ratio for unionized employees in the Hawaii Government Employees Association, United Public Workers, Hawaii State Teachers Association and University of Hawaii Professional Assembly. This agreement will cost the state an extra $18 million this fiscal year, and $54 million in each of the next two fiscal years.

  *   *   *   *   *

 

The boost is mentioned at the bottom of a Star-Advertiser column published today.  After 10 paragraphs about California and New York budget problems, you get to the part about Hawaii…. 

If you thought Hawaii's budget deficit was bad...

…Abercrombie will be listening to a constant stream of pleas for more money.  The loudest will come from the public employee unions. The state's deficit projections are based in part on the end of the state worker furloughs in June. After that, the state employees work five days a week, four weeks a month, unless Abercrombie can figure out a new way to pay state workers less.

That doesn't seem likely. Abercrombie has already given public workers a big gift for the new year by restoring the 60-40 split in medical insurance costs.

Last year, Gov. Linda Lingle had refused to increase state spending for public worker medical benefits. The historical split of the state picking up 60 percent of the costs shifted. Unions said that under some plans, workers were actually paying a larger percentage than the employer

Abercrombie restored the 60-40 split for the remainder of the contract period, which ends June 30. No dollar figures are available, but it shows that Abercrombie is not ready to alienate his labor base.

 

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