HARRISBURG – A comprehensive study is moving forward to identify cost-saving opportunities for public school employee health care plans, according to Senators David G. Argall (R-Schuylkill/Berks) and Bob Mensch (R-Berks/Bucks/Montgomery).
The study is a result of a resolution Argall authored last session to require the state’s Legislative Budget and Finance Committee, chaired by Mensch, to review how the 500 school districts across Pennsylvania purchase health care for public school employees.
“We strongly believe that there are opportunities for school districts to work together to buy health coverage for employees in order to save money without sacrificing existing benefits,” Argall said.
School districts and major health insurance carriers were sent surveys as part of the study. A total of 150 school districts and several major insurance carriers have completed and returned surveys. Argall and Mensch are encouraging their colleagues to reach out to their local school districts before the Sept. 30 deadline to respond to give a more accurate picture.
For example, the largest school district in Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia School District, has not submitted a survey, although efforts are still being made to gain their participation.
Along with school districts, major insurance carriers were also sent a survey. Of all the major carriers, only Capital Blue Cross declined to provide “taxpayer benefit plan” data, citing confidentiality concerns that they are trying to resolve with the committee.
“I appreciate the many stakeholders assisting the committee to compile these important findings,” Mensch said. “I’m hopeful other stakeholders who have not responded can assist in this endeavor so we can keep more hard-earned tax dollars inside the classroom.”
Argall and Mensch noted that the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials have been instrumental in assisting the committee with the study. Other groups offering support include the Pennsylvania State Education Association, Pennsylvania Federation of Teachers, Pennsylvania State Board of Education, Pennsylvania School Boards Association, Pennsylvania Employee Benefit Trust Fund, Public School Employees’ Retirement System, State Employees’ Retirement System and the Pennsylvania Association of Intermediate Units.
The committee expects to have the preliminary findings compiled by Sept. 30. Argall and Mensch hope to use the final report as a roadmap to identify future savings and opportunities for efficiencies within the state’s 500 public schools.