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House panel OKs state insurance overhaul, but will Senate bite?

A House committee approved an overhaul of the state group health insurance plan with little to no debate Thursday morning.

The House Health Care Services Committee — which had wrapped up lengthy debate on an adoption bill — had moved to extend the two-hour meeting in case the state group health debate ran long.

The bill, PCB HHSC 15-02, is nearly identical to one the House proposed last year and would redesign the state group plan in phases. The first phase, effective 2016, directs the Department of Management Services to establish employee contribution rates in 2016 that reflect the actuarial benefit difference between HMOs and PPOs. Also effective 2016, the bill requires the state to offer employees access to a variety of health options, from prepaid health plans to direct primary care to discount medical plans

Committee Chairman Jason Brodeur, a Republican of Sanford, told legislators that the bill would allow state employees to have more variety in their health care choices because not everyone wants or needs the same plan.

“This really does, I think, get us a little bit forward without taking anything away from our employees.”

Brodeur told Florida Politics this past week that the state group plan does not reflect other employer-sponsored health plans. The House analysis of the proposed committee bill underscores Brodeur’s assessment. According to the staff analysis, in 2013-14 the state contributed approximately 90% toward the total annual premium for active employees for a total of $1.55 billion out of total premium of $2 billion.

State employees and retirees contributed $393 million and the remaining $89 million was from other sources such as interest, refunds, and rebates.

The Senate rejected the House’s move last year and at the end of the third week of the regular 2015 session there is no similar bill emerging from the Senate.

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