All Californians Deserve the Same Lower Cost Coverage Available to State Employees and Legislators
Santa Monica, CA -- The California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS), which provides health care benefits for state workers, legislators and retirees, announced today that the agency's 2006 health care costs are expected to increase 8.9%, a rate much lower than increases in the private market according to the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR). FTCR, citing health cost increases for individuals and small business of 20-50%, called for a new program to allow any California resident to have access to the same rates available to CalPERS.
"If CalPERS' health care costs are a barometer for the rest of the market, then individuals and small business owners are sure to see another year of double-digit rate increases while benefits continue to shrink. It's time we gave patients more options for lower cost health care. CalPERS' tremendous bulk purchasing power proves a basic market principle: the bigger the buyer, the better the price. By allowing more Californians to join the bulk purchasing pool, CalPERS will be able to negotiate an even better price in the future," said Jerry Flanagan of FTCR. "Working families who are losing health care benefits or paying too much for coverage should be allowed to buy the same lower cost health care available to state workers and legislators.
The CalPERS health benefits committee will vote to approve the 2006 rates today, and the full CalPERS Board of Directors is expected to vote on the proposal tomorrow.
A new report, "Falling Apart" by the U.C. Berkeley Labor Center, found that due to skyrocketing costs, employers will not pay for health insurance for nearly half of California's working adults by 2010. As a result, approximately 1.5 million more Californians will be uninsured because they won't be able to afford insurance coverage on their own. 880,000 more Californians are expected to be enrolled in public health care programs by 2010. FTCR said that allowing any Californian to buy health care at CalPERS' rates would provide a low-cost option and reduce the number of newly uninsured working families.
FTCR President Jamie Court introduced the idea of allowing individual consumers to buy coverage through CALPERS in a recent Los Angeles Times op-ed. Click here to read Court's op-ed.
FTCR has received a title and summary from the Attorney General on a ballot initiative to allow any Californian to have access to prescription drug discounts negotiated by CalPERS on behalf of state workers enrolled in the self funded plans.
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The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) is California's leading nonpartisan consumer advocacy organization.