NJSBA concerned about potential increases in school employee health program rates

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The New Jersey School Boards Association is expressing concern about potential 2023 premium increases for the school’s employee health benefits program.

Although final premium rates for the plan year beginning January 1, 2023 have not been made public, it would appear that these increases will be in the double digits, as will premiums for the state health benefits program. . A July 21 press release from the Senate Republican Office said bonuses for school employees and teachers covered by the SEHBP are expected to increase by 15.6%, while bonuses for employees active in the benefits program state health would increase by 24%.

According to NJ.com, New Jersey Treasury spokeswoman Jennifer Sciortino acknowledged that rate increases were being considered and added that rates for the coming year in the various plans would likely increase between 12 and 20 percent. .

SEHBP increases would largely be paid for by school boards; many employees enrolled there pay a percentage of their salary, not a percentage of the insurance premium, under changes implemented under Chapter 44. The NJSBA has expressed concerns about the financial impact potential of Chapter 44 and urged reconsideration of this measure, as well as relief from the negative consequences of the 2020 law, which increased costs for many districts.

“This decision would have a very negative impact on district budgets,” said Irene LeFebvre, president of the NJSBA. “It diverts taxpayer dollars from classrooms at the expense of student services, academic programs, and appropriate staff — and it ends up undermining student success.”

Senate Speaker Nick Scutari, Senate Majority Leader Teresa Ruiz and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Paul Sarlo released a statement on July 21 urging the plan design committee for the benefits program state health care and school employee health benefits program. to delay the approval of rate increases. The state senators also called on the state treasurer to “use his authority to block anticipated approval and ensure that a full account of the finances of both health benefit plans is made public and fully discussed”. There should be no rate increases without justification, and they should be prepared to take whatever steps are necessary to mitigate the financial impact of any rate change.

“District budgets have been finalized for next year, and substantial fee increases would require councils to reduce or eliminate programs and services that could benefit children,” said Dr. Timothy Purnell, executive director of the NJSBA. “We urge the Schools Employee Health Benefits Commission to further review rate proposals and seek strategies to limit increases for the 2023 plan year, rather than forcing district school boards to make cuts to a budget that went through a transparent budget approval process. ”

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