Thursday, March 17, 2011

House Approves Bill to Let Lawmakers Opt Out of State-funded Benefits

Contact: State Rep. Dustin Roberts
Capitol: (405) 557-7366
OKLAHOMA CITY – Legislation that would free up taxpayer money by letting lawmakers opt out of the state employees’ group health and life insurance plans was approved by the Oklahoma House of Representatives today.
            “The intent of this legislation is to allow state lawmakers who receive coverage through a private business or practice to opt out of receiving state-funded benefits,” Roberts, R-Durant, said. “The monthly rate for coverage ranges from $602 to $1,578 depending on the number of family members covered. If 25 percent of state lawmakers were to opt out in a given plan year, the savings could add up to about a half a million dollars.”
            House Bill 1062 would let lawmakers opt out as long as they are covered by a separate insurance plan. Under the legislation, any money saved would be retained by the state and could be spent elsewhere.
            Under current law, lawmakers receive a benefit allowance to pay for state insurance premiums. If they choose a plan that costs less than their allowance, they pocket the money.
            “The law requires us to pocket that money right now,” Roberts said. “It just seems silly to those of us that have insurance coverage already. We would rather just opt out and let the state spend that money elsewhere.”
            House Bill 1062 passed by a vote of 70 to 26. It now proceeds to the Senate for consideration.

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