Two fresh pieces of news this week illustrate, in completely different ways, the value of considering House Speaker Andy Dillon’s plan to overhaul and pool health care benefits for public employees.
First, small business owners got a shock when Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan announced plans to begin rating small employers and charging premiums based on claims experience. The change is likely to result in higher premiums for many small businesses and their employees, according to Crain’s Detroit Business.
Dillon’s statewide pool could be expanded to allow small businesses and entrepreneurs to take advantage of pooling and gain bargaining power over prices.
Second, Wayne County Commissioners came under fire by the Detroit Free Press for refusing to make benefits sacrifices when many other public workers across the state, and in Wayne County government, had already done so….
“The 15 Wayne County commissioners aren’t applying the tough love to themselves. The board laid off 11 of its 54 employees in January. But commissioners won’t cut their own salaries (ranging from $68,676 to $80,676), their $500 monthly car stipend or fully paid (no premiums) health insurance,” the Freep wrote. “In Oakland and Macomb counties, where commissioners earn less than half of their Wayne County counterparts, the politicians are taking their own medicine. Oakland’s commissioners have pledged to cut their $33,782 salaries 2.5% in each of the next 2 years, the same pay cut they’ve asked of their employees. Macomb’s commissioners voted last month to cut their $32,365 annual pay 5% beginning next year.”
Dillon’s statewide pooling approach could, if successful, assure fairness and consistent coverage levels across borders — and create economies of scale and bargaining power to the benefit of taxpayers.
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