Thursday, January 3, 2008

The OTHER news we've been waiting for

When we returned to the office on Wednesday we were greeted by a quick email from the manager of the Public Employee Insurance Pool (PEIP). He stated that he got the results from their study of our insurance pool and he would like to make a presentation of what it would cost to maintain the health coverage we have but to be insured through the PEIP rather than through the district pool.

(REMINDER: There is a state law that says a collective bargaining group—our union—can leave the group from which they are insured and join the Public Employee Insurance Pool. I learned about this over the summer, requested and obtained support from the Executive Board to pursue the feasibility study for obtaining more affordable insurance from PEIP for our pool of teachers, educational assistants, and school/community professionals, made the formal request and have been providing updates at each subsequent membership meeting.)

At this point I cannot tell you what sort of news he has for us, but there are a few comments I would like to make just knowing that there is news to report.

First, regardless of the news he has for us, this is a great example of our union looking for solutions to a very complex problem on behalf of our members and, ultimately, the families we serve as well. No matter what news PEIP has for us, we need to use this moment to recommit to finding a solution to the problem of access and affordability to quality health care that will work for our entire community.

Next, if PEIP can illustrate an opportunity to offer us the health insurance coverage we currently have, but less expensive than what we are currently paying to Health Partners through the district, our ENTIRE union will have a serious discussion about this decision and our ENTIRE union will make this decision. If the information is promising, I will bring it to the Executive Board for a full discussion and a vote to bring the information and opportunity to vote to the full membership. If the Executive Board votes to bring the information to the membership, we will have extensive information available and every member will have the opportunity to vote on whether or not our entire bargaining group will leave the district pool and join the Public Employee Insurance Pool instead.

Finally, know this: Our creativity and courage in exploring PEIP as a viable option has served as an inspiration to about a dozen other teachers’ unions in the state. Our step forward to request a quote from PEIP was noticed and other, smaller, unions were encouraged by it. Let us take this opportunity to continue to show leadership across the entire state during the legislative session regarding all viable health insurance legislation and in our work with Take Action Minnesota, so in the end, we will be proud of the role we played in creating a community solution to this problem.

1 comment:

ltm-mom said...

So what is the history of this search for a more reasonable insurance solution? I thought I remembered reading somewhere that you had taken this issue to the legislature and Pawlenty vetoed the initiative after it had been passed. The I have also heard that the district has sent lobbyists to work against the initiative. Could you tell me a little more about how this is going because the state of our so-called health benefit is really the most concerning issue in the contract for me. I actually have to buy insurance on my own for my kids because it is too expensive through the district, a common complaint I know.