Insurance

SEBB hearings next week

Both the House Appropriations and Senate Ways and Means committees will be hearing SEBB bills next week.   All of the bills noted in earlier entries will be heard plus two additional bills recently introduced.  The recent additions, 2755 & 6461, would allow school districts with more than 1,000 employees to be exempt from SEBB if they meet SEBB criteria.

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More SEBB bills introduced

Besides the two “fix-it” bills described yesterday, four more bills were introduced today to change SEBB.  Two bills were introduced to increase the SEBB membership by adding a school board member and a school administrator: 6286 & 2655.  Two bills, 6288 & 2657, were introduced to:

—allow certain school districts to not be in SEBB;

—require funding parity with State employees;

—increase SEBB membership by adding another classified and certificated representative;

—allow school districts to pay for a lower eligibility criteria than 630 hours and,

—allow school districts to offer optional benefits not provided by SEBB.

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Bills to perfect SEBB – taking financial pressure off single coverage employees

SEBB (School Employee Benefit Board) insurance plans for all K 12, ESD (Educational School Districts), and charter school employees, was approved in the 2017 legislative session.  This comprehensive change to K 12 insurance plans will take place on January 1, 2020.  Not surprisingly, there is a great deal of preparation that has to be undertaken to make the change in 2020 as positive and effective as possible.

The Health Care Authority (HCA), the state agency responsible for implementing SEBB has recognized that the law implementing SEBB needs to be perfected.  Senator Hobbs and Representative Cody are introducing “fix-it” bills developed by the HCA in the House and Senate.  The Senate bill is 6241, the House bill is 2438.  

The most significant changes in the bills are:

…move forward the date for data to be provided HCA 8 months to April 1, 2018.

…clarify that the employee payment for insurance premiums for family and single coverage be 3:1 (not 1:1).  What that means is employee payment for family insurance premiums would be $3 for each $1 that employees who buy single coverage would pay not $1 for each $1 paid by singles.  Without this change, it would be an unfair financial burden on employees who sign up for single coverage.

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Day 1 starts with hopes of early conclusion

With democratic control of the House and Senate, leaders of both chambers are expressing hopes that they will not only finish on time (March 8) but will finish early.  Since the last several years have seen one if not up to three extra special sessions, everyone hopes they are right.

Yesterday, I testified in support of Governor Inslee’s supplemental budget.  I supported his effort to comply with the Washington Supreme Court’s demand that the State start funding their substantial increase to basic education salaries starting September 1, 2018, not September 1, 2019.  Further, I highlighted his addition of $13 million to implement the new SEBB (School Employee Benefit Board) insurance plans for K 12.

Additionally, I highlighted two areas that PSE will be advocating for this legislative session:

—Add $500,000 each year of the two year budget to update general paraeducator training modules and develop special education and transitional bilingual paraeducator professional development training modules.

—Clarify what the legislature meant last year when they passed EHB 2242 with the direction that we can negotiate “district average salary for classified employees” up to the amount of the school district’s state allocation for those salaries.  How this is calculated is critical to determining how much we have available to negotiate “market based wages”.    For instance, will the average salary be calculated for all classified employees or just basic education employees?  If its all classified employee, in most circumstances, we should be able to negotiate higher salary increases.

 

 

 

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Governor Inslee Budget Fixes K12 Compensation Problem

Governor Inslee just released his supplemental budget requests.  Though there are a variety of K12 and higher education budget changes he recommends, the most significant was his proposal to move forward by one year the State’s funding for K 12 salaries; a direct response to the Washington State Supreme Court’s recent McCleary order.  The cost of this change ($759 million dollars) will be paid for by reducing the $1 billion rainy day fund (and possibly a carbon tax).  If the legislature goes along with Inslee’s proposal, the State will have completed all of the steps required by the Supreme Court to fully fund basic education.

Other significant changes he has proposed:

  1. $17.2 million for high school and beyond programs for 7th and 8th graders, including $3.8 million to hire more middle school counselors;
  2. $12.8 million to increase Opportunity Scholarships;
  3. $5.2 million retiree remittance adjustment ($68.67 increased to $69.57);
  4. K 12 2018-19 insurance funding increased from $840 per FTE to $845.18;
  5. $20 million increase to special education funding;
  6. Increase from $8 million to $21 million the funding necessary to implement SEBB (School Employee Benefit Board).

What is the likely effect if the legislature increases funding for classified employee salaries in the 2018-19 school year instead of the 2019-20 school year?  The 36.5% increase (from $34,180 to $46,647) starting September 1, 2018, sounds great but remember this is an allocation increase that is limited by other laws (primarily EHB 2242 passed in the 2017 legislative session).  That law limited our access to the increased funding for classified employee salary allocations over the 2018-19 and 2019-20 school year.  If the legislature agrees to raise the allocation as proposed by Governor Inslee, this law will also have to be changed in the 2018 legislative session.  PSE will be advocating to increase the allocation as proposed by the Governor and change the law to do no harm to classified employees ability to get reasonable cost of living adjustments and market based salaries.

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Fall updates on affordable health insurance for school employees

PSE Member Patty Estes was appointed to the state board that will "design and approve insurance benefit plans for school employees, and establish eligibility criteria for participation in these plans." (Washington State Health Care Authority)

PSE Member Patty Estes was appointed to the state board that will “design and approve insurance benefit plans for school employees, and establish eligibility criteria for participation in these plans.” (Washington State Health Care Authority)

Greetings from the School Employees Benefit Board (SEBB). I wanted to keep my fellow PSE members as informed as possible on our progress in creating the benefit program we will all fall under in 2020.

The first meeting of the School Employees Benefits Board was held on October 23, 2017. In this meeting, we discussed values, goals, and visions of the board. We all seemed to be on the same page as to why we are there. We want to take care of all school employees, certified and classified alike. This is a great opportunity for us to have a voice in benefit plan selection and eligibility requirements. While the Legislature is still working on defining and filling in some of the gaps in House Bill 2242, we are hitting the ground running.

On November 6, 2017, we held our second meeting. We heard from Dr. Dan Lessler (Chief Medical Officer for the HealthCare Authority), who spoke about the state of our healthcare system in the United States compared to other industrialized nations. Dr. Lessler spoke about the need for change in that system, and explained the importance of changing from volume-based payments to value-based payments. We discussed the importance of “whole person care” in the work we are doing. Dr. Lessler spoke to us all about the Accountable Care Program/Network that is currently in place under some benefit plans in the PEBB (Public Employees Benefits Board) program.

We will begin looking at benefit plans within the next few meetings. I would like to invite any feedback from you about current benefit plans, what works, what doesn’t, any ideas to improve, etc.

The board has had a lot of questions that we have been unable to get answered with the state of the House Bill 2242’s ambiguity. The Legislature will need to fill in the gaps before we will know some of these answers. Until then, we are preparing for all K-12 school districts, charter schools, and educational service districts to be required to switch benefit plan coverage to the SEBB program we create.

Our next meeting will be December 11, 2017 at 1pm at the HealthCare Authority in Olympia, WA. For more information, agenda, meeting minutes and board member contact information, click here. I would like to encourage anyone with feedback for me or any of the board members to contact us or attend a meeting (in person or via phone). Any questions and/or comments are welcome and appreciated.

Thank you,

Patty Estes
Eatonville School District
P.O. Box 1364
Eatonville, WA 98328
C 360-621-9610
p.estes.sebb@gmail.com

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Gov. Inslee signs McCleary school funding bill; School Employees Benefits Board included

Senator Steve Hobbs, Governor Jay Inslee, and PSE President Charlotte Shindler at the McCleary funding solution bill signing in Olympia, WA.

Senator Steve Hobbs, Governor Jay Inslee, and PSE President Charlotte Shindler at the McCleary funding solution bill signing in Olympia, WA.

Today, Governor Jay Inslee signed the historic McCleary school funding bill. Amidst the details of state property tax, increased salary allocations, changes to levy collections, the solution also includes a new insurance system for K-12, the School Employees Benefits Board (SEBB).

Under SEBB, basic education employees who work over 630 hours per school year will receive full state insurance funding. For the thousands of classified school employees drowning in health insurance premiums, SEBB will provide much-needed and long overdue relief. All insurance plans, employee and employer insurance payments will be decided by the SEBB beginning in 2020. Additionally, K-12 insurance funding will equal that of state employees.

“Health insurance is a critical issue for classified school employees,” said PSE President Charlotte Shindler. “With premiums rising dramatically year after year, many of our members spend most of–if not all–their entire paycheck on insurance coverage. For the thousands of classified school employees struggling with health insurance premiums, SEBB will provide affordability, stability, and long overdue relief.”

This victory for our state’s 60,000+ education support professionals wouldn’t have been possible without the advocacy and lobbying efforts of PSE members. Your calls to the legislative hotline, letters sharing your personal health insurance stories, and conversations with your elected representatives were vital to this success. Thank you for stepping up and having your voices heard!

For more information on SEBB and other details of the McCleary solution, click here.

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Show your support for HB 2242 and SEBB

It’s time for affordable health insurance. Call 360-902-4111 and tell Gov. Inslee to sign HB 2242 & School Employees Benefits Board (SEBB) into law.

The legislature’s plan to fully fund education (House Bill 2242) includes a new insurance system for K-12, the School Employees Benefits Board (SEBB). Under SEBB, basic education employees who work over 630 hours per school year will receive full state insurance funding. For the thousands of classified school employees drowning in health insurance premiums, SEBB will provide much-needed and long overdue relief.

Governor Inslee has until Wednesday to sign HB 2242, which includes SEBB, into law.

When signed into law, all insurance plans, employee and employer insurance payments will be decided by the SEBB beginning in 2020. Additionally, K-12 insurance funding will equal that of state employees.

For more information on SEBB, click here.

Support-HB-2242-and-SEBB

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Budget details and McCleary solution updates

Read what it all means for PSE members in Doug’s legislative blog.

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Senator Steve Hobbs – Unsung Hero

Throughout this legislative session, and for the last 5 years, Senator Hobbs has championed classified employee insurance benefits.  Most recently, and during the special sessions, he has asked budget and McCleary solution negotiators to take care of one problem: affordable, quality health insurance for all classified employees.  With the introduction of SEBB (school employee benefit board) in the McCleary solution bill (HB 2242), his patience and determination to help classified employees was finally rewarded.

What you don’t realize is that he has withstood withering attacks that would have scared any normal politician away from the issue.

Congratulations Senator Hobbs and thank you for standing strong for classified school employees!

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