Committee looking at state-run health insurance for school workers

Lawmakers are now trying to figure out what it would cost to implement a state-run health insurance program for public school employees.

The Senate Finance committee issued their call for studies this week, and they’ve set aside up to $350,000 to look at just how much the state’s school districts are currently spending on private plans and if there would be any benefit to the state stepping in.

The results they get could either bolster or sink legislation to have the state take over public school health plans. Sen. Mike Dunleavy, a Republican from the Mat-Su area, sponsored the bill, and he says that it’s in response to rising premiums.

“If we can reduce the costs outside of the classroom, we can put more money inside of the classroom. That’s the idea.”

According to Department of Administration projections, it would cost the state over $300 million a year to administer its own health insurance program for public school employees. Dunleavy says that this study should give legislators information on how expensive it would be to stick with the status quo.

“The goal is cost savings. If there’s no cost savings, and this is the best system we have — hey, we stay with it.”

The Senate Finance committee plans to reward their contract in July, and the final report on public school health plans will be due this fall.