Thursday, February 4, 2016

Even Though Controversial Health Plan Changes on Hold, Educators Had Better Remain Vigilant!

Apparently, the board planning to vote on changes to the NC State Employees Health Plan has decided to hold off voting on those controversial changes proposed earlier in the week. According to WRAL (See “State Heath Plan Will Put Off Discussion of Controversial Changes”) and emails from lawmakers, this board will only “vote on changes in store for 2017, including rises in costs for members.” That is certainly some good news to educators and state employees, but not entirely good news. Applause certainly goes out to all of North Carolina legislators who, no doubt, put pressure on this board to "hold off” on making the controversial changes. But "holding off” certainly does not mean the issue is dead. State employees and educators need to remain vigilant, because this will definitely come back in some form.

The increased costs in 2017 in the State Health Plan is still cause for concern. For example, after 20 plus years in education, I wish I could count the times that our state has engaged in a bit of “bait-n-switch” with our pay increases and health insurance. There have been quite a few times that they have provided raises to teachers, then, when the next health insurance cost increases come around, those increases immediately go to pay for the increased health insurance costs. This kind of switcharoo is common and is just plan old political practice in North Carolina. Politicians can say, with a straight face, that they gave teachers a raise, and even pass a lie detector test. After all, appearances mean a hell of lot more than truth and reality in the political game in North Carolina, no matter political party.

As I indicated earlier, educators and state employees need to remain vigilant, especially with a legislature known to put together some late night shenanigans to get things passed before anyone notices.