Ashley Balcerzak | July 1, 2020 | NorthJersey.com |
New Jersey public school teachers and certain retired teachers will soon be offered less expensive health insurance options, after Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill into law Wednesday essentially unraveling unpopular changes to benefits known as Chapter 78.
The move, a negotiation between former rivals Senate President Stephen Sweeney and the powerful New Jersey Education Association teachers’ union, is estimated to save the state and members millions of dollars a year by lowering premiums and cutting costs through offering a new plan limited to New Jersey health care providers. The bills passed unanimously in both chambers of the Legislature.
“The real importance of this bill isn’t just in how it creates an entirely new way of protecting the health of our educators, or frankly in the hundreds of millions of dollars it ultimately will save our taxpayers,” Murphy said. “I think what we must take away from this day is today New Jersey returned to one of the central tenets of our state, and that is collective bargaining. At the end of the day, negotiation and open dialogue will always get you more in the end.”
One of the new health insurance options in the bill (S-2273/A-20), the New Jersey Educators Health Plan, will have a contribution scheduled tied to a percentage of teachers’ salaries, as opposed to a percentage of the total premium.
This change is expected to lower premiums and undoes changes enacted under the 2011 health benefits reform law, Chapter 78, passed under former Republican Gov. Chris Christie. Many teachers saw larger portions of their paychecks poured into health insurance coverage, leading them to leave the profession, the union said.
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