Health insurance

Governor DeSantis includes salary increases and health insurance premium protections in $ 100 billion budget

Governor of Florida Ron DeSantisThe proposed nearly $ 100 billion spending plan would offer an average 4% pay rise to state employees and ensure their health insurance benefits stay the same until 2023.

DeSantis’ budget proposes $ 255 million for salary increases for state employees, but includes the agency’s discretion to determine who gets a raise. The increases are in addition to previously approved wage increases that are expected to take effect next year, which would bring all employees’ wages to at least $ 13 an hour.

DeSantis’ budget also allocates $ 75.4 million to increase the base rate for over 4,500 sworn law enforcement officers; $ 124.2 million to increase the base rate of pay for correctional probation officers and inspectors working for the Department of Corrections; and an additional $ 15.9 million to the ministry to implement an employee retention plan.

The budget also provides $ 11.2 million to increase the base rate for juvenile justice department detention and probation officers and $ 1.4 million to increase the salaries of more than 580 state firefighters. .

At a press conference announcing his plan, DeSantis said his decision to keep schools and other state operations open in fall 2020 meant he was determined to protect Florida employees.

“We have saved the livelihoods of so many hard working people who don’t have the luxury of working from home, and we have stood up for them time and time again,” he said.

By allocating salary increases to career services employees, the Governor’s budget requires agencies to take into account the working hours of employees. In addition, the budget asks agencies to consider how to implement salary increases to ensure that adequate ratios are maintained between employee compensation classes.

But that’s not the only benefit for government employees in the governor’s proposed spending plan for fiscal year 2022-2023. DeSantis’ budget also puts a freeze on any change in employee health benefits, whether in benefit design or cost.

Government employees have not seen an increase in their health insurance premiums for over 15 years. According to the Division of State Group Insurance of the Department of Management Services, the annual family premium for the state’s group health insurance plan was $ 21,973 as of July 1. Of this amount, the employee is responsible for $ 2,160.

People who currently work for the state can enroll in a Preferred Provider Organization Policy, or PPO, or a Health Maintenance Organization Plan, or HMO. Regardless of the type of health plan they enroll in, state employees can choose their level of coverage. Employees can choose a standard option or a high deductible policy. High deductible plans have lower monthly premiums, but employees are required to pay more for their health care. High deductible plans also come with tax-free health savings accounts. But few government employees enroll in high-deductible plans. Amy baker, the coordinator of the Florida Bureau of Economic and Demographic Research, said earlier this month that fewer than 5,000 people – mostly working workers – were enrolled in high-deductible health insurance plans, or about 2.7% of the state’s workforce.

The Florida Freedom Budget asks the DMS to ensure that the benefits currently provided by the various health insurance plans remain the same until June 30, 2023.

Meanwhile, health insurance recommendations in DeSantis’ budget proposal work against Sen. Jeff brandes‘desire to reshape the state’s group health insurance program in the next fiscal year. Brandes, now chairman of the Senate committee on government oversight and accountability, wants to steer more state employees into high-deductible health plans. Brandes said that these plans make consumers more aware of the services they are getting as well as the costs of the services. Due to the fact that they “have skin in the game,” Brandes said, they are less likely to consume unnecessary health services which can increase costs.

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