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Senate Bill 5811 would prohibit negotiations over wellness programs. And Tom’s bill would impose wellness plans of the state’s choosing for all state employee health plans by Jan. 1, 2014. It is scheduled for a hearing Thursday (Feb. 21) in the Senate Ways and Means Committee.
Wellness programs with incentives are a hot topic. Gov. Inslee has ideas; the new governor should have the opportunity to present his ideas first. Wellness also came up in negotiations last summer. The concept is good: Encourage more healthy habits and cut the overall cost of health care and health insurance.
The only problem is it should be a negotiable issue. The Public Employees Benefits Board floated a plan last summer that would have given employees a discount on premiums if they took part in wellness programs. It was quickly abandoned at the July 25, 2012, board meeting, with a goal of trying again in 2014. The problem with the scheme is it had a fixed amount of money for incentives. So the more employees who took part, the less the discount. And with medical inflation, premium costs would still go up.
It’s also unclear if Tom’s bill signals a move by the new Senate majority of 23 Republicans and two Democrats to try Wisconsin-style attacks on your bargaining rights.
Other bills introduced today:
• HB 1923, the House counterpart of SB 5781, the PSERS bill to add high-risk DSHS job classes.
• HB 1928, the House counterpart of SB 5371, one of the DD Task Force bills heard in the Senate last week.