Teachers: Not So Fast on Health Care Insurance Plan Proposal

By Scott Sarvay
By John W. Davis

July 8, 2010 Updated Jul 9, 2010 at 11:23 AM EDT

INDIANA (Indiana's NewsCenter) - The Indiana State Teachers Association is voicing opposition to a report that indicated the state could save $454-million if teachers and university employees drop their health insurance and participate in a state run plan.

The ISTA says the savings will be achieved through reducing benefits and increasing employee contributions.

A spokesperson for the ISTA says what the report fails to recognize is the sacrifices already made by teachers exchanging salary increases for health benefits.

About $150 million of the savings would come from economies of scale, essentially adding more workers to their current coverage plan.

Meanwhile, teachers and other school employees would shoulder the other $300 million in savings by receiving fewer benefits and paying higher premiums.

"All that fat out of the government I think is gone," said Indiana State Teachers Association President Nate Schnellenberger.

"So at that point we still don't have enough revenue then we need to look at increasing revenue. One thing that we think should be done is we should have a surcharge or a graduated income tax on those Hoosiers making more than 250,000 dollars," said Schnellenberger.

Right now switching to the plan is voluntary.

Locally, Fort Wayne teachers took their salary step-increases and did not change their health care benefits.

Across the Indiana, only five districts have voluntarily chose to join.

Meanwhile, Governor Mitch Daniels and the Indiana State Board of Education suggested that all schools consider joining back in January 2010.

But the $454 million dollar question is how close is the state of Indiana to mandating this plan.

The plan almost passed into law last fiscal year.

Experts think the idea could could up again in January for next year's budget.

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