Public Comment, Joint Senate Finance and Assembly Ways & Means Committees, 2/17/2023
by Kent Ervin, State President, Nevada Faculty Alliance
Re: Public Employees’ Benefits Program Budget
The Nevada Faculty Alliance is the independent statewide association of professional employees at Nevada’s public colleges and universities. We work to empower our members to be fully engaged in our mission to help students succeed.
To be fully engaged, state employees need robust health care benefits to keep healthy and productive The Public Employees’ Benefits Program is essential for recruiting and retaining state employees. While uncompetitive salaries are the most pressing concern of our members, benefits are next.
PEBP benefits were drastically cut after the Great Recession. We slowly clawed some of them back just to have benefits cut again during the pandemic. Now that the state’s economy and revenues are roaring back, the benefits should be fully restored to pre-pandemic FY2020 levels:
- Restore Long-Term Disability Insurance, which was completely eliminated.
- Restore basic Life Insurance, which was cut by 40%.
- Restore pre-pandemic deductibles, copays, and out-of-pocket maximums.
- Restore pre-pandemic employee premiums, which were raised by 50%.
We also support raising the Medicare retiree contributions to Health Reimbursement Accounts to cover Medigap insurance inflation, as proposed by AFSCME Retirees and RPEN.
Longer term, state funding of the employee health insurance plan has not kept up. As shown in the chart on the next page, the total rate for the basic high-deductible plan for state employees (single-employee tier) has increased only 8% over the dozen years from FY2011 to FY2023, while average per-capita health care costs have risen 69%. Only about 66% of the average cost of health care for an individual is now covered by the PEBP premium. Although PEPB has instituted some cost-saving efficiencies, largely the additional burden is falling as higher out-of-pocket medical and prescription expenses on the employees who are most vulnerable—employees who have chronic conditions and need treatment to remain productive on the job, employees who suffer a major health crisis in a year, and employees who become total disabled because of an injury or diagnoses but now have no income safety net after the elimination of Long-Term Disability Insurance.
Before 2014, the PEBP plan premium matched the average per capita cost of health care, but now it only covers about 66%. State employees are paying higher out-of-pocket medical and prescription costs.
Source: PEBP annual rate tables, CMS National Health Expenditures Tables, AON 2023 Global Medical Trends Report.
The Nevada Faculty Alliance is the statewide independent association of professional employees at the colleges and universities of the Nevada System of Higher Education. The NFA is affiliated with the American Association of University Professors and the American Federation of Teachers/AFL-CIO, which represent over 300,000 higher education professionals in North America. The NFA advocates for higher education as a common good, academic freedom, and improving the working conditions of NSHE professional employees.
Contact: Kent Ervin, NFA State President, firstname.lastname@example.org, 775-453-6837