Green: Senate approves reform to public employee health costs

LANSING, Mich.—The state Senate on Wednesday approved legislation that will save taxpayer dollars by capping government spending on public employee health benefits at $15,000 per family, $11,000 for couples and $5,500 for individuals, said Sen. Mike Green.

As an alternative to the hard dollar cap, the measure allows public employers, such as counties, cities, townships and schools, to instead cap their share at 80 percent of the costs. The remaining 20 percent would be paid for by the public employees.

“During these difficult economic times, hardworking Michigan taxpayers shouldn’t be expected to pay to maintain expensive government employee health coverage when they struggle to afford their own,” said Green, R-Mayville. “This is a significant reform that saves taxpayer dollars, helps control skyrocketing health care costs, and brings public employee benefits more in line with those in the private sector.”

Green also said that legislators and their staffs are covered under the bill.

The decision-making authority for the public employer or local unit of government could opt-out of the requirements with a two-thirds majority vote. Schools may not opt-out.

The measure awaits concurrence in the state House of Representatives before going to the governor for approval.