Monday, June 20, 2011

Does This New Provision 'Fix' Pension/Benefits Bill?

Here's an excerpt from a story in the Star-Ledger of Newark on the "fix" to Section 76 of the Pension and Benefits Reform Bill in New Jersey. As you read this you will see that the matter is still not completely clear -- though some are arguing that the "fix" is better than the original provision:
Before the vote, the Senate passed an eleventh-hour bill also proposed by Sweeney that loosened restrictions on public workers seeking out-of-state treatment.
A majority of Democrats opposed that provision, too, even though they acknowledged it was better than what Sweeney was proposing on Friday.
The provision, as it was passed today, lets public workers choose whether to buy health insurance that covers out-of-state treatment or a cheaper option that directs workers to New Jersey hospitals unless a doctor decided that no one here could handle their case.
Sen. Joseph Vitale (D-Middlesex) said that still puts world-class medical care in New York and Philadelphia out of reach for many public workers, who will not be able to afford their share of the costs if they enrolled in the out-of-state plan.
Many people will be forced to take the cheaper in-state plan, said Vitale and Sen. Shirley Turner (D-Mercer).
"I don't think anyone can make any assumptions about the costs," said Sweeney spokesman Derek Roseman. "We won't know how much the plans cost until the health boards are created. ... We have great hospitals in New Jersey and we want to create an incentive to keep those hospitals running."
Republicans also opposed the provision but relented to Sweeney in order to secure passage of the larger bill.
Click here to read more about this and the rest of the bill.

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