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Mon Jun 3, 2019, 03:37 AM

Gov. Laura Kelly 'troubled' state workers bearing brunt of health insurance cost surge

Gov. Laura Kelly supports moderation — perhaps a reduction — of state employee health insurance premiums following years of massive rate hikes that covered diversion of millions of dollars in state payments from the health insurance fund to shore up a state budget ravaged by declining tax revenues.

Three years of premium spikes in excess of 30 percent initiated during the administration of Gov. Sam Brownback followed an 8.5 percent reduction in the state government’s annual commitment to the state employee health insurance fund. The decision to diminish state aid and escalate employee premiums freed up cash to help balance the state budget. But the arrangement placed on state workers added burden for consequences of tax cuts championed by Brownback that nearly crippled state government.

During the past five years, the state’s contribution to the state employee health insurance account climbed a total of 8.5 percent. Premium payments by state employees with policies that included spouse or family ballooned 115.5 percent in that period — 36.7 percent in 2016, 30.4 percent in 2017, 31.7 percent in 2018 and 16.7 percent in 2019. Premium increases for state retirees in the health insurance system went up 74.1 percent.

“I’m deeply troubled by what we have learned about the mismanagement of the state employee health insurance plan over the last four years,” said Kelly, who took office in January. “We have been reviewing options to give state employees some relief from the year-over-year increases and will be implementing changes.”

Read more: https://www.cjonline.com/news/20190601/gov-laura-kelly-troubled-state-workers-bearing-brunt-of-health-insurance-cost-surge

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