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Posted on Wed, May 18, 2011 : 6:15 p.m.

Michigan Senate OKs bill requiring public workers to pay 20 percent of health insurance premiums

By Staff

Public employees of the state, schools, local governments and universities would be required to pay 20 percent of their health insurance premiums under a bill the Michigan Senate passed today,'s Peter Luke reports.

The measure was approved on a near party line 25-13 vote. It comes as officials also have reached an apparent agreement that would reduce proposed per-pupil cuts to K-12 education.

Sponsored by Sen. Mark Jansen, R-Gaines Twp., the cost-sharing on premiums could save public employers more than $500 million annually, including $174 million for state government.

The bill’s cost-sharing requirement would not take effect until after current collective bargaining agreements expire. The bills are opposed by public employee unions, but endorsed by employer groups such as the Michigan Association of School Boards that want cost sharing taken off the bargaining table.

County and municipal employers could exempt themselves from the 80-20 requirement with a two-thirds vote of the governing board. As the bill winds through the process, a cap could be added that would also limit employer costs to $13,000 per employee.

A companion constitutional amendment would ask voters to ensure the proposal applies to university employees.



Fri, May 20, 2011 : 12:28 p.m.

Include all current public employee RETIREES who receive free health care benefits - this is a large number - in this 20% cost sharing. Shared sacrifice should be shared by all. And do not discriminate taxing pensions based on age! Born before 1946 = no taxes on pensions. Born in 1946 = Ah! taxation MUST start!! No fair! Age discrimination in all it's grandeur. A gradutaed income for all pensions would be considerably more fair.


Fri, May 20, 2011 : 12:40 a.m.

I am surprised that no one has yet identified this law as: ILLEGAL - There is no "privity of contract" between the State and most of the individuals affected by this law. Although school districts receive 100% of their funding from the State, the employees are not State employees. Universities receive very low percentage of public support from the State. Some municipalities are completely self-funded and receive no Revenue Sharing dollars from Lansing. UNCONSTITUTIONAL - This law forces public employees into a second class status where they are ineligible for benefit levels that may exist in the private sector. This violates the tennet of "All people being equal". IMMORAL -Within this second tier of employees the State has create an even lower caste, that of School District Employees. School employees are the only group not eligible for a waiver of the 20% contribution - regardless of the fiscal health of the employing public body. This goes far beyond the concept of discrimination and is clearly legislated persecution by basis of career choice.

John Q

Thu, May 19, 2011 : 8:08 p.m.

I don't understand how all these non-union overachievers are getting stuck with massive health care premiums and deductibles. I've been told by the right-wing over and over again how horrible unions are, how they hold back the high achievers and once unshackled from the union, you can go to your boss and negotiate your own wages and benefits and that will surely include better pay and benefits than any union flunky gets for doing nothing all day. Please explain to me how all of you who are whining about your pay cuts and health care premiums haven't been able to convince your bosses to pay you more and pay less for health care? Underachievers? Low performance employees?

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Thu, May 19, 2011 : 11:16 p.m.

Apparently. Good Night and Good Luck

Mr. Tibbs

Thu, May 19, 2011 : 6:10 p.m.

part time legislature.


Thu, May 19, 2011 : 5:37 p.m.

It's quite comical reading a lot of what people posted here, talking about something they obviously know nothing about. People tend to believe what is written in the media. Unfortunately, only gave part of the information. However, if people would have done their own research then they would have known this: The 20% pay into the health insurance DOES include the legislatures. Gee, and who voted against it? The democrats! Go figure. The school and city officials are all for it, but who is against it? The unions. Go figure. Too bad Granholm didn't do this eight years ago.


Thu, May 19, 2011 : 4:25 p.m.

Housing market crushed. Property taxes down everywhere. State revenues way off. True unemployment over 20%. Yet, some refuse to see the reality. Time to privatize all services that make sense. Put them out to the lowest bidder. As a taxpayer, I want the best services for the lowest cost. Am I getting that with pay and benefits that far outstrip the private sector? Of course not.


Thu, May 19, 2011 : 6:03 p.m.

Put it out to the lowest bidder? Have you ever heard the term "you get what you pay for?" Do you really want the lowest bidder teaching your children the skills they will need to succeed in this harsh world? Do you really want the lowest bidder for a police service to come to protect you in your time of need? I'm sure there wouldn't be any corruption there! *note the sarcasm* Would your really prefer for the lowest bidder to come rescue your family out of a burning building, because I don't know about you, but I sure as heck would not be putting by behind out on a limb for somebody else for peanuts. Think about what you are saying here. Think about the jobs these people do. These are the people that are willing to do everything in their power to make yours and mine lives as safe and educated and ready for whatever comes our way possible. I surly do not want to entrust that kind of responsibility to the lowest bidder!


Thu, May 19, 2011 : 3:22 p.m.

Here I am working hard to support my family; food, clothes, monthly bills -nothing outrageous or beyond our means. Groceries have doubled in price and I am struggling to provide. I am already paying over 25% of my monthly income for health care premiums; thank goodness none of us are ill and in need of special medical treatment costs. I'd happily pay only 20%. To add insult to the current string of financial injuries; my senior parents (and soon me) are are having our pensions violated. Where is the hope because I am not feeling it. Why not raise money for this great state by selling something we Michiganders love & would pay a few cents more for -like offering specialized license plates other than UM or MSU; Beautiful colorful 'come visit our beautiful Michigan' type plates like: fall leaves, whitetail deer, hunting, mitten Michigan, great lakes blue, petosky stones, golf courses, fishing, Taq. Falls, snow skiing, etc. -plates in addition to the horrible colorless ones we currently choose from? Only one of the current plates is nice, the rest are DULL and BLAH to look at. Other states do it; I see visitors with pleasant to look at plates from Florida, Utah; those states offer many plates and it is nice to sit behind them in traffic instead of behind dingy old michigan boring plates. Why can't we tax something many people use (not everybody drinks alcohol or smokes tobacco) like soda, bottled water, grill charcoal, or toilet paper? Why should I, an honest, tax paying, hard working person who is slowly sinking into the throes of poverty (and seeing my family sink with me) have any respect for the very very very wealthy Gov. Snyder who is so out of touch with the working class of my kind that he probably couldn't tell me how much a loaf of bread costs? I suppose I could be wrong about that statement, but I don't expect to bump into him anytime soon while I'm grocery shopping at Aldi's.


Thu, May 19, 2011 : 2:14 p.m.

Public employees accept lower pay scales to do jobs most people either are not willing to do or can not do, because in most cases they receive a decent benefits package. Now when times are tough for the private sector everyone starts jumping up and down saying "Just look at what these people who do what I am not willing to do are getting! Its not Fair! If I don't have it they shouldn't either!!" When the economy turns around (and it will) and the private sector is making loads more than the public sector with outrageous bonuses and inflated pay scales will the tables turn? Will all these people who are screaming about how the public sector is robbing them blind speak up to level the playing field to bring the public employees wages up to par with the private sector?!?! I doubt it. We all had the privilege of choosing our respective professions with certain expectations be it a high salary, decent benefits or a solid retirement. I'm all for fair is fair, but when times turn around we had better see the trend continue.


Fri, May 20, 2011 : 12:41 p.m.

"Public employees accept lower pay scales to do jobs most people either are not willing to do or can not do, because in most cases they receive a decent benefits package." Very hard to swallow seeing what their pay scales are on top of benefits. Ever consider that many weren't able to get a job in the private sector??

Left is Right

Fri, May 20, 2011 : 4:42 a.m.

"When the economy turns around (and it will) and the private sector is making loads more than the public sector with outrageous bonuses and inflated pay scales will the tables turn? " Hmm, if the private sector looks that good, won't the public employees defect and salaries will have to rise? Am I missing something? If there truly is no mobility, we have a more serious problem than this 20% thing.


Thu, May 19, 2011 : 5:51 p.m.

@ Les Gov, the key term to your reply is with benefits. Thats part of the give and take that I was speaking of. They took less pay because they were getting decent benefits, so as you can see it is already evened out. Until they start being forced to take pay cuts in the form of added contributions that is. I do agree that if the government got a handle on some of these lawsuits and got the insurance company's in line we would all be better off. Instead, they pit us against each other and laugh all the way to the bank.

Les Gov

Thu, May 19, 2011 : 4:23 p.m.

Wasn't there an estimate on that suggested the average teacher pay in this area, with benefits, was well over $100,000? At that level the public wage is equal to or better than the private. Although...don't get me wrong...the teachers around here are great. I would just like to see things even out. Or better, the government get control of all the lawsuits so the cost of insurance goes down for everyone.


Thu, May 19, 2011 : 1:33 p.m.

Is Brady Hoke going to have to pay this 20%?


Thu, May 19, 2011 : 1:20 p.m.

Time for the legislators to take a pay cut and pay into their health care. Share is what this about, right? Lots of talk about how bad the private sector employees have it, why no talk about how the top 5% are doing better than ever? Why are you guys taking it out on teachers and cops and not on Goldman Sachs CEO's, AIG execs, Blackstone Group financiers? Stephen Schwarzman made $350,000,000 in one year. Where do you think that money came from? It may come as a surprise, but it came from the same place teachers salaries comes and me. Oh, right, he needs a tax cut because teachers are overpaid.


Fri, May 20, 2011 : 12:36 p.m.

You don't really think Michigan could tax AIG, Sachs, Blackstone, etc. do you?? Well, you just also might be taxing the investments in your own pension fund.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Thu, May 19, 2011 : 12:15 p.m.

Seems fair to me. Now lets see if RepubliKans in the legislature apply the same logic to themselves. I won't be holding my breath. Good Night and Good luck


Mon, May 23, 2011 : 4:24 a.m.

"Why not make it clear that the governor was opposed to this? Why not make the governor veto the bill to make clear the stark contrast between her and the republikan legislature?" Again, it's called give and take. Most understand that process. Very interesting though that the demoKrats voted AGAINST requiring themselves to pay 20% of the health insurance premiums. Finally, we have a piece of legislation that makes sense, but yet the demoKrats vote against it.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Sun, May 22, 2011 : 5:36 p.m.

"Apparently you don't understand the process of give and take. Before anything was put on paper the governor made her demands known to the legislatures." You can, of course, provide a link to back up this claim--that this was EVER on the table--bill submitted to committee--governor putt the hammer down? Of course you can. And even if it is true, why not pass the bill anyway? Why not make it clear that the governor was opposed to this? Why not make the governor veto the bill to make clear the stark contrast between her and the RepubliKan legislature? Good Night and Good Luck


Sun, May 22, 2011 : 2:42 p.m.

Apparently you don't understand the process of give and take. Before anything was put on paper the governor made her demands known to the legislatures. But I digress. And again, it's a shame that the demoKrats voted against the bill to have everyone pay 20 percent of the premiums. Not just a select few, but everyone. It's a shame that the demoKrats are protecting themselves. It's ok for others to pay 20% but not us!

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Sat, May 21, 2011 : 1:27 p.m.

"Perhaps you don't realize that during Granholm years it was put on the table, but it was Granholm that specifically took it off the table." Perhaps you might explain the process by which a governor removes something from the legislative "table". The only method about which I am aware is the veto, and no such measure ever came to her desk for signature or veto. If legislative RepubliKans were so interested in getting this enacted in her tenure, they'd have sent her the bill and forced her either to sign it or to veto it. Can you tell me when, exactly, that happened? Didn't think so. Good Night and Good Luck


Fri, May 20, 2011 : 4:44 p.m.

Perhaps you don't realize that during Granholm years it was put on the table, but it was Granholm that specifically took it off the table. But I digress. However, it is very interesting to note that the demoKrats were against this bill that passed.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Thu, May 19, 2011 : 7:40 p.m.

Yes, the Skubik article linked says this applies to the legislature. Good catch. My bad. As for what the former governor did or did not do, perhaps you don't understand that legislative action was required for this to happen? And perhaps you forgot that RepubliKans controlled both houses of the legislature in her first term and the State Senate in her second? Good Night and Good Luck


Thu, May 19, 2011 : 6:12 p.m.

Guess what, legislators have to pay 20% of the premiums for health insurance too. Who voted against it? The demoKrats. City and school officials are all for this bill. Who is against it besides the demoKrats? The unions. Now if only Granholm would have done something like this 8 years ago....but I digress.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Thu, May 19, 2011 : 2:43 p.m.

[as he rolls his eyeballs] Google it. Good Night and Good Luck


Thu, May 19, 2011 : 12:45 p.m.

Looking at the time of day, I would say: Good Morning and Good luck. Is your watch broken?


Thu, May 19, 2011 : 9:36 a.m.

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Les Gov

Thu, May 19, 2011 : 7:47 a.m.

&quot;public workers to pay 20 percent of health insurance premiums&quot;???...That's it??.... In the fortune 500 companies employees are paying about $700/month for medical insurance plus co-pays and deductibles. This article doesn't list dollar amounts but it sounds like public employees are still getting golden benefits paid for by taxpayers. When will government come in line with the large corporations? Then there is the whole lifetime benefits thing. Got to get me one of these government jobs.


Fri, May 20, 2011 : 12:51 p.m.

Oh Yes!! Add to my above reply they pay co-pays that vary from $15 to $50 on prescriptions - similar situation with doctor appointments, depending on who you see.


Fri, May 20, 2011 : 12:47 p.m.

Federal employees and RETIREES pay about 30% of their health care premiums, despite the number of &quot;choices&quot; of plans they have. This is on top of co-pays for appointments, prescriptions, etc. And I hear whining in the background, foreground, etc here??

Left is Right

Fri, May 20, 2011 : 4:35 a.m.

Pretty accurate from my paystub: &gt;$660/month for family--and this does not include the ever-present $15-20 copays.

Les Gov

Thu, May 19, 2011 : 4:18 p.m.

+1 Alan Would my paycheck stub be sufficient evidence for you? If not, I can arrange a meeting with everyone that works in my building. Or, we could travel to the corporate headquarters. My number is accurate. and the cost is only going up.


Thu, May 19, 2011 : 2:18 p.m.

Please offer a reference for your claim that &quot;In the fortune 500 companies employees are paying about $700/month for medical insurance plus co-pays and deductibles.&quot; I don't think this is accurate.


Thu, May 19, 2011 : 12:44 p.m.

You would have to pass a psychological test first. Good luck!


Thu, May 19, 2011 : 6:43 a.m.

I love it when someone tries to actually DO something to bring costs in line and the perfectionists start criticising. First, there are a lot more government employees than there are elected officials. If you folks want cuts there, vote for those that will put it on the table. It's not a perfect world and everything doesn't always get done at once. Did you naysayers get your degree, buy a house, get married, have kids, and find that perfect job all at the same time? Why would you expect 30 years of financial negligence and &quot;selective&quot; bargaining to be corrected all at once? Good job Michigan Senate and Governor Snyder! Keep up the good work and thank you for taking care of business.


Sun, May 22, 2011 : 4:25 a.m.

So Ghost, is what you're proposing &quot;if we can't do it all, do nothing&quot;? Sounds like it. I say lets start somewhere. That's what &quot;real&quot; business people do. Good night and I make my own luck.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Thu, May 19, 2011 : 12:12 p.m.

It's not about numbers--it's about perception and basic fairness--RepubliKans yammering on about how public employees need to be brought back to the &quot;real world&quot; by contributing to their pensions and paying 20% of their health insurance while the legislators who support those measures get free health care for life and a lifeling pension without ever contributing a dime for either, and they get it after six years. Good Night and Good Luck


Thu, May 19, 2011 : 3:43 a.m.

So let me get this right. If the Federal government mandates that everyone must have health insurance (so called Obamacare) that is socialism. But, if the State government mandates that all public employees must pay a minimum of 20% toward health insurance premiums (Snyderuncare) that's not socialism? Thanks to all the teachers and first responders for all your past efforts. We and you now know how much the people in Lansing think of you. Remember: &quot;Those who can, teach. Those who cannot, make laws about teaching and teachers.&quot;


Thu, May 19, 2011 : 1:13 p.m.

Most of the pundits and pols have no idea either, MARSHALL. A law that mandates private insurance is not &quot;socialist&quot; either, but that is what we hear. Did you object to that wrong definition?

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Thu, May 19, 2011 : 12:09 p.m.

&quot;The only thing I take away from this comment is that you have no idea what &quot;Socialism&quot; means.&quot; Nor does someone who refers to the Affordable Care Act as &quot;socialism&quot;, given that its private insurers who will benefit most from its provisions. Good Night and Good Luck

Marshall Applewhite

Thu, May 19, 2011 : 5:17 a.m.

The only thing I take away from this comment is that you have no idea what &quot;Socialism&quot; means.

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, May 19, 2011 : 2:50 a.m.

I'd love it if my wife and I had our co-sharing reduced to 20%.

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, May 19, 2011 : 11:35 a.m.

Not &quot;take it out&quot; on others, just bring them along to the new reality of life. I (we) are the collective employers of all in the public sector. When those of us in the private sector see our wages stagnant or falling and our insurance co-pays rising along with our taxes, (its true my property taxes don't go down, only up.) I would suggest that the public sector is &quot;taking it out on &quot;me&quot; if they aren't willing to share the burden.


Thu, May 19, 2011 : 4:04 a.m.

So you should take it out on others?

miller lite

Thu, May 19, 2011 : 2:21 a.m.

maybe I can refuse employer coverage and put the family on state paid health care


Thu, May 19, 2011 : 2:08 a.m.

If the government had a lick of sense it would have solved the high costs of health care years ago. They shouldn't have to pass bills like this --- much of the industrialized world pays half of what we pay for health care.


Thu, May 19, 2011 : 10:21 a.m.

We allow law suits that the rest of the industrialized world does not allow. Costs are half of Michigan's in Tennessee. They instituted Tort reform.

miller lite

Thu, May 19, 2011 : 2:04 a.m.

I work hard, everyday, at a municipality that is in good financial standing, now I have to take a pay cut, I guess it's time to only put in 80% effort.


Fri, May 20, 2011 : 1:04 p.m.

Perhaps that's that attitude for the expression &quot;Good enough for government work&quot;.


Thu, May 19, 2011 : 1:11 p.m.

SO, Stun and Craig, are you guys willing to pay an extra..say...5% in taxes to balance our state budget? If not, what sacrifice are you two willing to make to &quot;share&quot; in the tough times?


Thu, May 19, 2011 : 12:38 p.m.

Well said Craig. Time to trade the miller lite for a bud light.

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, May 19, 2011 : 2:49 a.m.

spoken like a true public worker.


Thu, May 19, 2011 : 1:28 a.m.

I hope Snyder can cut Legislators pay - heck, I hope they drop all salaries and benefits for all legislators down to zero . Many states do not pay they legislators much at all. But cutting costs for 150 or so legislators in Lansing amounts to peanuts when you consider that the total number of Michigan public employees is perhaps over 425,000. Every district is in the red - every district has to cut. This is just one cut that is the most available - more to come I am sure!


Thu, May 19, 2011 : 1:42 a.m.

One of the &quot;bunch.&quot;


Thu, May 19, 2011 : 12:51 a.m.

O.K. Governor Snyder. Where's the law cutting the free lifetime benefits for legislators and judges and their families after 6 years of service and retirement at age 55?! Where's their 20% contribution to health care costs? When do you intend to make things fair across the board and have all of you in Lansing live by the same sacrifices as the rest of the State citizens? When are we going to hear a peep out of you about the inequities?


Thu, May 19, 2011 : 1:56 a.m.

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Thu, May 19, 2011 : 12:43 a.m.

Excellent news, now pass another bill forcing public workers to fund at least 20% of their pensions. Better yet , get rid of pensions for any employee with 15 years or less and put them into 401k's like we in the private sector have. We are finally seeing some fiscal sanity brought to this state. Good Day


Thu, May 19, 2011 : 12:47 p.m.

Why not just fire all of the public employees? Look at all of the money we would save!


Thu, May 19, 2011 : 1:27 a.m.

One of the &quot;bunch.&quot;


Thu, May 19, 2011 : 12:41 a.m.

Attracting talented young people into the teaching profession will get that much more difficult. Glad my children are finished with their educations. What a bunch of fools!


Fri, May 20, 2011 : 1:17 p.m.

Rubbish! When I first started teaching in a public school, I didn't even receive health care benefits. I had to find and buy my own health insurance. I didn't even consider joing a unions. Oh! and there were plenty of eager young teachers. Benefits really weren't an issue, and at ages 22 to 30 most teachers didn't even look at benefits - they wanted to teach. Some of that may have changed in today's atmosphere but I believe there are plenty of young teachers that do not look at benefits as the prime reason for teaching; that concern often comes later. Where you teach is more important when you first start out.

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, May 19, 2011 : 2:52 a.m.

because folks are attracted to the teaching profession by the lack of an insurance co-pay? Boy will they be surprised by the private sector.


Thu, May 19, 2011 : 12:13 a.m.

So basically they are hitting teachers, police, and firefighters. Awesome, the people generally considered pretty important to our society get screwed, yet legislators get a free pass. Next we will be hearing that the legislators gave themselves a raise because of the surplus. Why isn't the govt. pushing on insurance companies to bring down the monthly/yearly rates charged for insurance? This all seems a little fishy if you ask me.


Thu, May 19, 2011 : 3:16 a.m.

I wouldn't suggest banning medical malpractice claims but doctors do perform a good deal of unnecessary tests out of fear. There are certainly reasonable claims but holding the physician responsible for everything that goes wrong in a very inexact science does increase insurance costs.


Thu, May 19, 2011 : 12:39 a.m.

Fear of litigation, alan? Not in this state. One of the toughest places to effect a just recovery for legitimate malpractice claims in the nation. It's the fee for service method of paying for health care that drives up cost. Banning medmal claims entirely would not change that.


Thu, May 19, 2011 : 12:23 a.m.

Why not do something about the outrageous cost of medical care and fear of litigation that drives up costs?

Sofia Toti

Wed, May 18, 2011 : 11:42 p.m.

Are legislators public employees? I thought not.


Wed, May 18, 2011 : 11:23 p.m.

I guess we have our demons for this political cycle.