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Published May 10, 2011

Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, did some quick homework and discovered that legislators are agreeing to reform the state employee health insurance program and raise employee health rates by passing the budget, without a stand-alone vote on the measure. The measure takes effect in 2013 and is tucked into SB 2126, the budget conforming bill for the Department of Management Services.

Although a version of the concept received a hearing in the House, the Senate has not had a hearing and Senate budget chairman J.D. Alexander told the Herald/Times that the budget deal would include "no changes to employee health insurance. " He did not mention that the changes were geared to take effect after this year's budget.

In an email Friday afternoon to all legislators and staff, Dockery wrote:

"Within the conforming bill amendment to SB 2126 (DMS) that we are being asked to vote on today, there is language that will significantly change the amount of money that all state employees pay towards their health insurance premiums beginning in the year 2013. This is a policy change that needs to be done out in the open. I asked the appropriations staff 4 days ago what changes would be made this year to employee health benefits and did not receive accurate information. Additionally, I have still not been given a breakdown of what the below language will actually save the state/cost the employees. The language reads:

Section 5.-Section 110.12304, Florida Statutes, is created

736 to read:

737 110.12304-State and employee contributions toward health

738 plan premium cost.-

739 (1)-For the 2013 plan year, the state's share of

740 contribution toward the cost of the health plan shall be:

741 (a)-Platinum Level: 90 percent for an individual plan and

742 86 percent for a family plan.

743 (b)-Gold Level: 85 percent for an individual or a family

744 plan.

745 (c)-Silver Level: 80 percent for an individual or a family

746 plan.

747 (d)-Bronze Level: 75 percent for an individual or a family

748 plan.

749 (2)-The employee shall pay the remaining cost of the plan

750 premium; however, if the employee chooses a Gold, Silver, or

751 Bronze Level plan, the employee's salary shall be increased by

752 60 percent of the difference between the premium for the

753 employee's selected plan and the premium for a Platinum Level

754 plan.