Maintaining Affordable Health Care For State Workers

• The Office and Professional Employees International Union, Local 6 (“OPEIU”) is an organized labor union that represents roughly 3,300 trial court workers in Massachusetts.

• OPEIU opposes a proposal in Governor Baker’s fiscal year 2016 (FY16) budget that would substantially increase health care costs for state employees. Specifically, section 18 of the Governor’s FY16 budget proposal would raise the state employee’s share of the health insurance premium paid by 25 percent through shifting the 80/20 contribution ratios to 75/25. OPEIU opposes this initiative as it would result in additional and significant cost shifting to state employees who are already struggling to meet the demands of rising health care costs.

• The cost of health insurance for state employees was already increased for FY16 through changes approved by the GIC. The GIC has increased copays, deductibles and approved higher annual premiums (with an average increase of 5.7%) for FY16. In total, these changes represent $160 million in increased costs shifted to state employees for FY16 alone.

• The Governor’s FY16 budget proposal results in an additional shift of $34 million in health care costs to state employees. If section 18 passes, it is estimated that 45,000 employees statewide, who are on the 80/20 premium split, would take on an additional 25% of premium costs through the 75/25 premium split.

• If the Governor’s proposal is adopted, trial court workers will struggle to meet greater out-of-pocket costs, higher deductibles, higher co-pays, and a greater share of what are already increased GIC premiums. The average OPEIU member makes slightly over $42,000 a year. If the Governor’s proposal is implemented, the cost increase to the employee for a GIC family health insurance plan could be as much as $1,500 in 2016. Within the OPEIU’s membership, 70% of employees are women, almost half of whom are single mothers with children. These additional premium increases simply do not provide an affordable health care option for many of our state employees.

• OPEIU strongly recommends that the House and Senate not adopt Section 18 of the Governor’s FY16 budget proposal into the House and Senate budgets. Moreover, OPEIU respectfully requests that the House and Senate oppose any measures that would operate as continued cost shifting of rising health care costs to state employees.