The Oklahoma Senate has taken final action on legislation that should result in lower health insurance rates and greater health care choices for state employees. SB 1089 was approved on a 33-15 vote.
Among other things, the legislation begins the process of pumping an additional $35.9 million into the reserves of the Oklahoma State and Education Employees Group Insurance Board (OSEEGIB) to help offset a recent premium increase for state employees. OSEEGIB voted to raise rates last year, citing a decline in reserve funds.
"This should lend a helping hand to state employees who were hit with an unexpected premium increase. A lot of our state workers are having trouble just making ends meet and can't afford to pay more for their health insurance. We're trying to soften the blow and make sure they have affordable health care," said Senator Angela Monson, author of SB 1089.
The legislation would also rescind 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 also allows participating health insurance carriers to lower the rates currently offered to state employees.
"We're trying to give state employees as many choices as possible so they're not locked in with a single carrier. If they don't feel their carrier is meeting their needs, they can go somewhere else. When you open the field to that kind of competition, you increase the likelihood that health insurers will lower their rates and make things more affordable for the average Oklahoman," said Senator Monson.
The legislation is now awaiting the Governor's signature.
"This legislation sends the signal to state employees that we're not going to leave them out in the cold when it comes to health care access and affordability. It's the very least we can do for our state workers," said Senator Monson.