Statewide Campaign for Affordable Health Coverage for School Employees Gets a Boost

San Antonio AllianceUncategorized

Via: Texas AFT

In anticipation of a possible 2016 special session to address inadequate school funding, Texas AFT is pressing lawmakers to recognize that inadequate state funding for school employees’ health coverage is a big part of the problem. This campaign got a significant boost today from the El Paso ISD school board, which at the urging of our El Paso AFT local became the first in the state to join with Texas AFT in the push for legislative action to restore health-care affordability. You can join in this campaign yourself by signing on to Texas AFT’s online petition directed to state legislators here: http://www.texasaft.org/healthcarepetition/. The petition calls for an immediate doubling of the state’s contribution to school employees’ health coverage and ongoing increases to restore affordability.

The El Paso ISD board of trustees’ resolution makes the case clearly for urgent state action:

WHEREAS, the Board of Trustees of the El Paso Independent School District recognizes that quality health-care coverage at a reasonable cost to employees is a fundamental employee need;

WHEREAS, employees saw an increase of 10.6% in the premium for individual coverage this year, and saw an increase of almost 50% in the dollars coming out of their own pockets for that coverage this year, with even higher increases in employee costs for employee-plus-family coverage;

WHEREAS, the state’s funding for health insurance has remained at $75 per month since 2002, while the cost of health insurance has since risen dramatically;

WHEREAS, the employee share was originally under 30 percent for individual coverage under a mid-level comprehensive plan and the employee share has more than doubled since then, to 63 percent now; and

WHEREAS, this shifting of burden to the employees is statewide and is hurting employees and districts regardless of whether or not they use TRS; and

WHEREAS, the El Paso AFT and Texas AFT have started a statewide campaign to redress this problem in the anticipated special session on school finance;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Board of Trustees of the El Paso Independent School District join El Paso AFT and Texas AFT in calling on the Texas Legislature to: Increase state funding with an immediate $75 monthly increase per employee in formula aid for school districts earmarked for health coverage; and provide for annual increases in state funding of $75 per employee until the employee share of the premium cost is reduced to the ratio originally established in 2002 when the state began funding employee health care through the school-finance formula. Once that level of state funding is restored, it should be maintained by indexing the state contribution to medical costs.

On this critical issue, El Paso AFT and the El Paso ISD school board have set an outstanding example of employee/employer teamwork that we hope will be followed in other school districts. Texas AFT will be lending support to local affiliates to help that process along.