Insurance

PEBB closes in on final plans for 2019

The PEBB (Public Employees Benefits Board) is the board responsible for developing insurance plans for state and higher education employees, plus nearly 3,000 K 12 employees.  This board is the model for the SEBB (School Employees Benefits Board).

At yesterday’s PEBB meeting, the Board set the stage for final decisions on 2019 insurance plans at next week’s July 25 meeting.  Based on my experience, what was presented and discussed yesterday will be approved at the next meeting.  Here are the major takeaways from the meeting:

  •  UMP Classic (55% of subscribers) medical insurance plan subscriber premium payment increase is $5 per month (4.9% increase).
  • Kaiser Value (15% of subscribers) increase is $10 per month (12.8%).
  • Kaiser Classic (10% of subscribers) increase is $6 per month (4.4%).
  • UMP Plus (9% of subscribers) is going up $5 per month (11%).
  • UMP CDHP (7% of subscribers) stays the same.
  • Dental, Life, and LTD (Long Term Disability) show little to no increase – these are all employer paid insurances.
  • UMP Plus plan will no longer be offered in Grays Harbor County.
  • Employees who have not yet signed up for optional LTD or have it but want to change may get a special opportunity to sign up or change in 2019 without having to show evidence of insurability.

Here is the complete package of information for those who would like to go through the many details shared at the meeting.

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SEBB negotiation dates confirmed

SEBB negotiations with OFM (Office of Financial Management) will start on July 20 at 10:00 am at the WEA headquarters in Federal Way  (32032 Weyerhaeuser Way S, Federal Way, WA 98001.)  It is expected the negotiations will conclude by 2:00 pm.  PSE members interested in attending and observing the negotiations should feel free to attend if they are in the area.  Whether you want to come in for a couple minutes or the entire time is up to you.

Other dates and locations for meetings will be as follows (all times are expected to be from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm):

August 7 – Teamsters Building in Tukwila (address – 14675 Interurban Ave S #307, Tukwila, WA 98168)

August 16 – WEA headquarters

September 6 – WEA headquarters

September 11 – WEA headquarters

 

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SEBB negotiating committee puts finishing touches on negotiation proposal

Yesterday, the SEBB negotiating committee met to finalize operating rules as well as our first negotiation proposal for insurance funding starting January 1, 2020.  The committee is composed of representatives from WEA (committee chair and spokesperson), PSE, Teamsters, SEIU 925, AFT (American Federation of Teachers), and Operating Engineers. In the future, there may be a representative from the Association of Washington School Principals (AWSP).  We have left seats open for 3 other representatives of other organizations who represent school employees but have not yet responded to our efforts to get their input.

Our negotiation proposal will be shared after we have had an opportunity to meet with representatives of OFM (Office of Financial Management).  OFM is responsible for representing Governor Inslee during these negotiations.  Rest assured we are asking for full funding of the classified employee insurance benefit factor .  Without the state funding for the factor, school districts will face a significant cost to their local budgets.

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RFP (request for proposal) for medical insurance

As you can tell, I am catching up on the many activities surrounding SEBB.  Another RFP was recently released by the HCA (Health Care Authority) for insurance companies interested in offering “fully insured” medical insurance to SEBB participants.  “Fully insured” is a term for the insurance products K 12 employees have traditionally been offered.  The reason for using the term now is that Washington State (actually the Health Care Authority) will be offering a “self-insurance” plan to all K 12 employees.  This plan is likely to be very similar to the plan the HCA offers state employees in PEBB – known as the Uniform Medical Plan.

Proposals are due by August 2 with final approval of plans by November 9, 2018.

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Another RFP (request for proposal) for SEBB

Short and long term disability insurance are important elements of the SEBB insurance plan.  As a result, the HCA (Health Care Authority) is formally requesting insurance companies submit proposals for disability insurance by June 13.  The SEBB will select the insurance companies soon.

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SEBB vision plan RFP (request for proposal)

The Health Care Authority (HCA) has begun its search for vision insurance plans for all SEBB participants.  This vision plan would be a separate part of the new SEBB insurance offerings (unlike the PEBB – Public Employees Benefit Board – that offers vision as part of its medical plan.)  As with any other insurance products this process starts with an RFP.  It’s a very long document with plenty of details for those truly interested in how SEBB develops.  Proposals are due by July 27 with the final award of contracts by November 9, 2018.

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SEBB development – gaining momentum

The pace is picking up as the Health Care Authority (HCA) prepares the School Employee Benefits Board (SEBB) to make decisions on plan structure and plan eligibility (big deal for classified employees who work on the bubble – at least 3.5 hours per day).  As if that isn’t enough, plans for negotiations with Governor Inslee’s Office of Financial Management (OFM) are well underway with a tentative negotiation start date of July 20.  Though my blog entries in the past have exclusively focused on legislative session activities, I have decided to blog on the progress of SEBB decision-making and SEBB negotiations with OFM over the next several months.  Enjoy…

SEBB Decision-Making

SEBB consists of 9 individuals appointed by Governor Inslee who have been meeting and making decisions (known as resolutions) about plan design and plan eligibility (who qualifies to be in the plan).  They have been passing numerous resolutions since they began meeting on October 23, 2017.  Mostof those early resolutions were procedural and were passed without any dissent. Over the last several meetings, the resolutions are beginning to shape plans that will be offered.

At yesterday’s June 13, 2018, meeting the Board passed several motions that will start development of the medical plans.  Not surprisingly, the resolutions started out with plans that will look similar to PEBB (Public Employee Benefits Board) plans but the constant conversation and effort of the Board is tailoring the PEBB plans to K 12.  For instance, the Board is looking into a separate stand-alone vision plan (rather than an embedded vision plan as in PEBB) as well as looking at the costs surrounding increasing the number of visits to specialists like OT, PT, massage, chiropractors, etc.

If you are interested in what was discussed at the June 13 meeting, the HCA  prepares “briefing books” for each meeting.  All the resolutions behind Tab 8 were approved with the exception of resolution 2018-24 (that one was put off for now).

BTW: if you are interested to see which insurance companies have shown an interest in bidding for medical insurance coverage for K 12 starting January 1, 2020, (and more importantly which counties will they be offering their plans), go to Tab 8 of the May 30, 2018, meeting.  Though this is only a showing of interest, it is a good sign that four insurance companies are interested in offering medical insurance in all 39 counties.

Next SEBB meeting: July 30, 2018.

SEBB Negotiations

Since SEBB benefits for all K 12 employees will be the same (Superintendents, teachers, classified), it requires that funding for those benefits be the same throughout the state.  As a result, a coalition of unions representing school employees will be negotiating insurance funding with OFM starting July 1, 2018.  The purpose is to determine how much the state and employers will pay for monthly insurance benefits for all employees who work or anticipated to work more than 630 hours in a school year.

A steering committee led by the Washington Education Association (WEA) has met twice to decide how we are going to negotiate with OFM.  The steering committee is composed of representatives from PSE, WEA, Operating Engineers, SEIU 925, and Teamsters.  We have made good progress and expect to have a negotiation proposal finalized at our next meeting.  Details of that proposal will be shared after it is approved by the steering committee. We will be asking for at least the same funding levels as state employees (they are also in negotiations for PEBB funding at the same time) plus full funding of the classified employee insurance benefit factor.

Next steering committee meeting:  (July 10).

 

 

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Governor Inslee takes action on many PSE priority bills

Governor Inslee has taken action (signed, vetoed, or partial vetoed) on hundreds of bills before him with only a couple left on his plate.   The good news is the bills PSE worked on have already been signed and will take effect within the next 90 days.  Here is the summary of his actions:

Paraeducators – SB 6388 was signed into law.  It takes effect on June 7.

SEBB Improvements – SB 6241 was signed into law.  It takes effect on June 7 with a couple emergency clauses that take effect immediately.

McCleary Fix – SB 6362 was signed law with a couple of section vetoes that didn’t directly affect classified employees.  It has a variety of effective dates.

2018 Supplemental Budget – SB 6032 was signed into law with a couple of section vetoes that didn’t directly affect classified employees.  It has a variety of effective dates.

Pro union bills – HB 2751 (requiring union member dues deduction) & SB 6229 (requiring employers to provide unions access to new employees within 90 days of hire) have both been signed into law.  Both are effective on June 7.

Yes there were several hundred other bills that he signed but the bills noted above are the ones which will have the most direct effect on classified employees in the years ahead.

 

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SEBB fix-it bill heading to Governor

During this session, PSE has worked with the HCA (Health Care Authority) and WEA (Washington Education Association) to push through a bill to implement SEBB (School Employee Benefit Board) by January 1, 2020.  SB 6241 was approved late last night on a party line vote of 50-48.   It is not uncommon for major pieces of legislation like last year’s SEBB bill, HB 2242, to be perfected in future years.  Now we wait for Governor Inslee’s signature on the bill.

Examples of some of the changes approved last night:

  1. Clarifies that the employee to family premium share will be 3:1 not 1:1 (employees who sign up for full family coverage pay $3 for each $1 single employees pay for premiums.)
  2. HCA will get current data from insurance companies 8 months earlier.
  3. School districts will be able to pay for optional benefits not covered by SEBB.
  4.  Employees who work less than 630 hours are eligible for SEBB if bargained with the district.
  5. 2018-19 school year insurance plans are allowed to go beyond the 12 month limitation in order to conclude by December 31, 2019.
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Budget agreement includes final PSE objective

Budget negotiators announced their final agreement last night, the day before the end of the session.  Most of the major differences between the House and Senate budgets were ironed out previously so this final deal didn’t change any major issues.  PSE had one additional measure we wanted the legislature to fund: $250,000 to develop paraeducator training modules.  Good news is that the budget included that funding.

K 12 salary allocations will be fully funded in the 2018-19 school year at a cost of $776 million.  The classified employee salary allocation will increase from $34,180 to $46,784.33 starting September 1, 2018.  Normally, when there is an allocation increase, we get the same percentage increase to negotiate with our school districts.  However, this 37% allocation increase does not mean we will get that full increase.  In another bill, SB 6362, which hasn’t been voted on yet but must be voted upon before the end of the session, the legislature limits how much we can negotiate of the 37% increase.  More on that after we see what the bill looks like.

Other details that didn’t change but are important to note:

  1. Insurance allocation will go up to $843.97 from its current amount of $820.
  2. The retiree carve out will increase to $71.08 from its current amount of $64.07.
  3. $20 million to HCA (Health Care Authority) to implement SEBB (School Employee Benefit Board).
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