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Keating Casts Vote for Higher Health Insurance Rates, Senator Calls Veto "Anti-state Employee, Anti-family"

By vetoing legislation designed to offset a recent premium increase, Governor Keating has insured that state employees will be hit with a health insurance rate increase. SB 1089 would have begun the process of pumping an additional $35.9 million into the reserves of the Oklahoma State and Education Employees Group Insurance Board (OSEEGIB), which recently voted to raise rates after a decline in reserve funds. The increase affects state employees, state retirees and teachers.

"We were trying to offer some help to state employees who were hit by a big health insurance increase, but the Governor's veto has stopped us. He's ignored the workers and families who have raised concerns about their health coverage. I think that's a pretty irresponsible position for our Governor to take, especially in a year when he claims to be supporting state employees," said Senator Angela Monson, author of SB 1089.

In his veto message, Governor Keating said the state health insurance plan was in "need of fundamental reform or privatization."

"I don't think it's fair to hold state employees and their families hostage in an effort to privatize the state health plan. We've always indicated a willingness to improve health insurance choices for state employees," said Senator Monson.

The legislation would also have rescinded a freeze that locked state employees in with their present insurance carrier, allowing them to choose a different health insurance plan if they so desired. The measure would have allowed participating health insurance carriers to lower the rates currently offered to state employees.

"We were trying to give state employees as many choices as possible on health coverage, but the Governor's veto guarantees they will be locked into a single carrier, whether they feel that carrier is serving them well or not. The veto eliminates any hope for competition and reduces the likelihood that health insurance rates will ever go down," said Senator Monson.

"This veto is bad news for state employees, retirees, teachers and their families. It sends the signal that Governor Keating isn't interested in health care access or affordability for state workers," said Senator Monson.

Contact info
Senate Communications Division (405) 521-5605