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.
- The deadline for bids and public comment on a proposed Haines-area timber sale has been extended. The University of Alaska is offering up 400 acres of old growth Sitka spruce and western hemlock on the Chilkat Peninsula.
- Heat pumps are nothing new. But upgrades over the past thirty years have made the systems a lot more reliable. Now Juneau installers are racing to keep up with growing demand.
- Concern over poor king salmon runs across the state drew a panel of fisheries experts together at a recent meeting in Anchorage. The event focused mainly on a better understanding of the science behind population declines.
- Native communities across Alaska are seeking a key to understanding the epidemic of suicide. The film screened Tuesday last week during the First Alaskans Institute 2017 Elders and Youth Conference held prior to the Alaska Federation of Natives Convention in Anchorage last week.