House Approves Employee Insurance Overhaul
In an issue that split Republicans and Democrats, the House on Thursday approved a bill that would revamp the health-insurance program for state employees.
The House voted 77-37 to pass the measure (HB 7007), sponsored by Health Care Appropriations Chairman Jason Brodeur, R-Sanford. The issue now moves to the Senate, where a similar bill (SB 900) has not been heard in committees.
House GOP leaders have long called for changes in the health-insurance program. Brodeur's bill, in part, would lead to employees choosing among four different levels of benefits beginning in 2020. The bill would provide an incentive for employees to choose coverage that would cost less than the amount of money the state contributes for premiums.
In those situations, the balance of the money would go to employees for such things as salary increases or purchasing additional health benefits. Democratic critics said the bill could lead to cuts in spending on health insurance for employees.
"This bill has a significant impact on people," Rep. Ramon Alexander, D-Tallahassee, said. But Brodeur argued the bill is aimed at providing health-care choices for employees and rejected contentions that it is about reducing spending. "Nowhere in this bill is an attempt to cut costs," Brodeur said.