Yesterday was an exciting day for two bills that are strongly supported by PSE. Bills 5726 and 5727 were simultaneously heard yesterday in the Ways and Means committee. PSE was pleased to see that there were professional support employees, teachers, and administrators all testifying in support of both of these bills. Karen Carter, Mead para educator, explained that 30% of their family pay was going to monthly healthcare premiums for her family. Amy Lindsey, Pioneer school district teacher explained how she paid over $1200 a month in premiums to cover her family. Mark Trobough testified how costs for family insurance was making the teacher shortage worse. Kim Lackey, Puyallup school district office manager, explained how she used to provide insurance for her children but had to stop because of the high cost of monthly premiums.
I chose to testify on the other side of the insurance spectrum as someone who is fortunate enough to pay nothing for my medical insurance. I shared with the committee my experience working with other professional support employees who once upon a time had paychecks to take home because insurance was affordable but who now are taking home considerably less due to rising costs. I also shared my story about my daughter who is a teacher but has not married the father of her two children because it would cost them over $800 per month to add him to her insurance.
Testifying on the con side were WEA (the teacher’s union) and Premera Healthcare. Premera said they didn’t see a problem with the current system as they are able to deliver a cost effective product to school employees with only 4% in overhead costs. As many of us know…a 43% increase in premiums over the last 4 years does not seem cost effective? WEA testified that they don’t think the system is broken. They just want the allocation to be higher.
There was a great article in the Seattle Times on the 10th of February. They talked to both the bill sponsor, Senator Hobbs and our own Doug Nelson. Senator Hobbs said it well, “Although many school districts offer affordable insurance plans to individuals, the family plans are out of reach for many school employees.” It is a hot issue on the hill and there will be more to come.
Here’s the hearing…