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Fairbanks wants no part of schools insurance pool

Borough officials have appealed to Interior delegation to block Senate Bill 90

Posted: February 9, 2014 - 1:09am

FAIRBANKS — Fairbanks North Star Borough officials have appealed to the Interior delegation to block a bill that would require Alaska school districts to pool employee health insurance plans.

Senate Bill 90, sponsored by Sen. Mike Dunleavy, R-Wasilla, has been billed as a way to save money through economies of scale, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.

Borough human resources manager Sallie Stuvek told Interior lawmakers Thursday that the numbers don’t make sense for the borough.

“With a scheme like that there’s going to be winners and losers,” she said. “The borough has a well-managed plan, and they’re more likely to pay more under SB 90.”

The Fairbanks North Star Borough self-insures and combines the health plans of borough and school district employees. The borough aggressively manages the plan and keeps costs down through negotiations with health providers and labor unions, Stuvek said.

“If we actually thought it would save our taxpayers money, we would be in support of that, but our research has shown it will cost us,” she said.

The state of Alaska’s health care plan costs have gone up 31 percent during the past three years. The Fairbanks school district’s health plan costs have gone up 17 percent and the borough’s plan dropped 4 percent.

Sen. John Coghill, R-North Pole, called the borough’s situation “a pretty good setup.”

Dunleavy introduced the bill late last year. It moved quickly through two committees but stalled in the Senate Finance Committee. The committee this week ordered more study of the bill’s effects.

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