A bill sponsored by Sen. Steve Hobbs to help public school employees acquire affordable insurance cleared the Health & Long-Term Care Committee on Thursday.
Under Senate Bill 6442 the approximately 300 insurance plans and 1,000 insurance pools for the 295 school districts throughout Washington will be consolidated into one. This will create savings through greatly reduced administrative costs.
The bill is part of the Senate Democrats’ reform agenda.
The bill looks to assist classified employees – bus drivers, lunchroom workers, teacher’s assistants, etc. – in our state’s public schools by lowering the costs of their insurance premiums.
Many of these employees and their families have been forced to shoulder costly insurance. Take the Flournoys for example.
The insurance rates of those who would be aided by passage of the bill are simply unaffordable in many cases.
Ken Flournoy and his wife Nicole have been employed by the Bethel School District for six years. In 2010, after 14 years away, Ken re-enlisted in the National Guard in order to provide full medical coverage for Nicole and their two kids, one of whom has special needs.
“In this day and age, a family can’t go without insurance,” Ken Flournoy said. “But every year we’ve watched our premiums go up. There comes a point when you have to choose between cutting out the necessities or paying for insurance. That’s a decision no family should have to make.”
The State Auditor and Health Care Authority estimate that a consolidated system could save tens of millions of dollars per year. A similar plan implemented in Oregon three years ago has saved $150 million.