In a bipartisan effort to save taxpayer dollars, two state lawmakers have filed legislation that would increase the number of state employees who could opt out of state-funded insurance coverage.
The effort builds on a law enacted in 2011 that allowed state employees and legislators to refuse state-funded coverage if they are already covered by another policy.
However, the current law only applies to individuals “currently covered” by a separate policy.
House Bill 2288, by state Rep. Dustin Roberts and state Rep. Emily Virgin, would expand the opt-out option to include those who “will be covered by a separate group health insurance plan at or before the beginning of the next plan year.”
“While last year’s opt-out legislation is already saving dollars, it has become clear that additional savings are still possible,” said Roberts, R-Durant. “While the savings may be ‘small’ compared to the size of the state budget, the money we free up through this legislation could pay to hire a new teacher or fund road repair. Every dollar saved counts.”
Virgin said the idea for House Bill 2288 came from conversations with local citizens.
“A constituent pointed out that because last year's legislation requires a person to be currently covered by another health insurance plan, there are cases where someone could not opt out because either the next health plan year has not started or they do not want to pay for two plans at the same time during the overlap. House Bill 2288 addresses that loophole to maximize taxpayer savings.”
The current law has already saved an estimated half-million dollars and could ultimately save $1.5 million to $3.5 million annually according to past estimates. By increasing the number of state employees who could opt out, Roberts and Virgin believe even greater savings are possible.
House Bill 2288 will be eligible for a committee hearing after the Legislature reconvenes on Feb. 6.