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LEGISLATIVE ALERT #1 – UHPA Member Action Needed

The proposals shift cost to current employees and those nearing retirement by removing benefits currently provided in EUTF health insurance plans and/or provided to employees upon retirement. These proposals are being advanced to obtain major concessions from employee unions without the state meeting its obligation to bargain.

These proposals fail to recognize the significant impact state and county employees have on our state’s economy. The more pressure that is placed on employees to bear all the increased costs of health care, the more likely the state revenue stream will lessen. It is also clear that some employees will be unable to continue to provide health care for their families. Some of the benefit cuts are for six years making it unlikely that benefit coverage provided today can ever be regained.

UHPA has continued to work with other unions to advance real discussions on the problems of health care premiums. To date, they have been met with silence by the Governor and legislature. These bills are an attempt to diminish employee’s voices in influencing their conditions of employment.

They are punitive in nature doing substantial harm to families and will
make it hard to maintain a quality higher education workforce. Faculty
will not see UH as a viable career option nor will faculty invest in
staying.

ACTION STEP

Email the House Committee and Labor and Public Employment by 8:30 am Friday, February 13, with testimony that you do not support these measures.  Click to link to the Notice of Hearing which provides the email address and information on submitting testimony.

  • HB1106 Relating to Public Employment

Seeks to protect the rights of public employees to health, retirement, leave and other benefits if furloughed. Implies that furloughs are a certainty without negotiating impact with unions. There is an assumption that furloughs will be imposed.

Also doesn’t preclude other legislation from taking current benefits away. 

  • HB1718 Relating to Employer-Union Health Benefits

If an employee eligible to retire and eligible for Medicare does not retire by December 31, 2009 they will not receive reimbursement for Medicare part B premiums. These premiums for part B which cover doctor’s services range from $96.40 to $238.40 per month per employee. This appears to be a negative incentive to move retirement eligible employees out of the workforce (See HB 1719). This creates a two tiered system of benefits. Future retirees will be penalized.

  • HB 1719 Relating to Public Employees

If an employee retires after July 1, 2009 and is not eligible for Medicare the state and county employee will not receive employer provided health care. Retirees will be allowed to retain coverage by paying the premiums to EUTF. Coverage through the employer resumes after Medicare age is reached. This undermines the employees who have made career decisions based on access to health care upon retirement. It is an attempt to force employees into immediate retirement while creating a two tiered system of benefits for future retirees.

  • HB1725 Relating to the Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefit Trust Fund

Prohibits EUTF from providing prescription drug coverage. Allows EUTF to have a prescription benefits paid by the employee.  The impact of this could be to increase premiums since access to prescription drugs often prevents other costly services like surgery. Finding an insurance carrier may be difficult because there needs to be assurances that a large number of employees will participate.

It is important that we know what you think.  Please email a copy of your testimony to kris@uhpa.org.