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Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Urges State Employees to Get Vaccinated; ACSS to Meet with CalHR Over COVID-19 Testing Direction to State Agencies

Posted: 9/30/2021 Tags: COVID-19 health policy representation Tags Views: 293

On September 28, 2021, the California Department of Human Resources (CalHR) shared a letter with ACSS drafted by Dr. Mark Ghaly, Secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency. Dr. Ghaly’s letter urges all state employees who have not yet been vaccinated to reconsider and get a COVID-19 vaccine. Click here to read Dr. Ghaly’s letter.

State departments continue to develop protocols and provide notice to ACSS over the weekly mandatory COVID-19 testing of unvaccinated employees working on site. The statewide roll-out of this mandatory testing is slower than expected because of the limited availability of testing kits.

ACSS has consistently taken the position that no excluded employee should be mandated to be a COVID-19 “Test Administrator”, responsible for handling potentially infectious swabs, over their objection. The current policy direction of CalHR to state departments is to “highly recommend” the use of supervisors and above to perform these testing duties. ACSS has requested to meet and confer with CalHR over the COVID-19 Test Administrator selection process. ACSS has made a series of proposals to CalHR to strengthen the testing process and protect the interests of excluded employees. We await the scheduling of a meeting with CalHR to discuss ACSS’ proposals.

While awaiting clarification of statewide policy direction from CalHR, ACSS is requesting that all departments select only volunteers to perform the COVID-19 testing functions and that the volunteer pool not be limited to only excluded employees.

If you have questions about vaccine verifications or mandatory COVID-19 testing, contact your ACSS Labor Relations Representative.


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Open Enrollment for Health, Dental and Vision Begins September 20, 2021

Posted: 9/17/2021 Tags: benefits health policy Tags Views: 438

Open Enrollment for health, dental and vision coverage starts September 20 and ends October 15. This is your opportunity to evaluate your health care selections and make any changes to your health, dental or vision plans and add or drop dependents effective January 1, 2022.

Dental and vision premiums remain unchanged, but health premiums are increasing. Basic Health Maintenance Organization health plans will increase by an average of 4.69% while Basic Preferred Provider Organization plans will see an average increase of 8.67%. The good news is that these increased premiums are accompanied by a significant increase in the state employer contribution for excluded employees.

The 2022 employer contribution through the Consolidated Benefits (CoBen) allowance to be used for health, dental and vision benefits effective January 1, 2022 will increase by approximately 7 percent to $739 (Single)/$1428 (2-Party)/$1845 (Family). The 2022 excluded employee “Family” employer contribution is an increase of $122 per month over the 2021 amount. With the increased employer CoBen contribution, some excluded employees will actually see a decrease in the employee contribution for the 2022 calendar year, depending on their health plan enrollment.

The employer contribution is calculated based on the weighted average premium of the four largest enrolled health plans. The new 2022 CoBen amount for supervisors, managers, and confidential employees is $55 per month higher than the state employer contribution for most rank-and-file employees.

CalHR has updated the “Benefits Calculator” portion of the CalHR website for comparison of plan costs and calculating your exact out of pocket costs, or your CoBen cash back if your selections are lower than the CoBen Allowance. Visit the CalHR Benefits calculator and select “2022” and “Excluded Employee” before entering your options.

If you would like to explore different health plan options, CalPERS has a tool that allows you to search plan availability and premium rates based on your zip code. Visit the CalPERS website.

Be on the lookout for Open Enrollment forms from your department. If you are not making changes, no action is needed.


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Open Enrollment for Health, Dental and Vision Begins September 21, 2020

Posted: 9/14/2020 Tags: benefits health policy Tags Views: 2637

Open Enrollment for health, dental and vision coverage starts September 21 and ends October 16. This is your opportunity to evaluate your health care selections and make any changes to your health, dental or vision plans and add or drop dependents effective January 1, 2021.

Dental and vision premiums remain unchanged, but health premiums are increasing. Basic Health Maintenance Organization health plans will increase by an average of 4.44% while Basic Preferred Provider Organization plans will see an average increase of 8.54%.

The 2021 Consolidated Benefits (CoBen) allowance to be used for health, dental and vision benefits effective January 1, 2021 will decrease slightly to $693 (Single)/$1340 (2-Party)/$1723 (Family). The employer contribution is calculated based on the weighted average premium of the four largest enrolled health plans. Even though health premiums are increasing, because one of the lower cost plans moved into the top four enrolled plans, this results in a slightly lower employer contribution for 2021. The new 2021 CoBen amount for supervisors, managers, and confidential employees is $52 per month higher than the state employer contribution for most rank-and-file employees.

If you would like to explore different health plan options, CalPERS has a tool that allows you to search plan availability and premium rates based on your zip code. Visit the CalPERS website.

CalHR is expected to update the “Benefits Calculator” portion of the CalHR website for comparison of plan costs and calculating your exact out of pocket costs, or your CoBen cash back if your selections are lower than the CoBen Allowance. Visit the CalHR Benefits calculator and select “2021” and “Excluded Employee” before entering your options.

Be on the lookout for Open Enrollment forms from your department. If you are not making changes, no action is needed.


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Open Enrollment for Health, Dental and Vision Begins September 10, 2018

Posted: 8/31/2018 Tags: benefits health policy Tags Views: 2409

Open Enrollment for health, dental and vision coverage starts September 10 and ends October 5. This is your opportunity to evaluate your health care selections and make any changes to your health or dental plans and add or drop dependents effective January 1, 2019.

CalHR just announced the amount of the 2019 Consolidated Benefits (CoBen) allowance to be used for health and dental benefits effective January 1, 2019. The CoBen Employer contribution for excluded employees has increased to $668 (Single)/$1293 (2-Party)/$1673 (Family). This new CoBen amount for supervisors, managers, and confidential employees is up to $50 higher per month than the state employer contribution for rank-and-file employees.

If you have received notification of a change in health plan availability, or if you would like to explore different health plan options, CalPERS has a tool that allows you to search plan availability and premium rates based on your zip code. Visit the CalPERS website here.

Some premiums are going up, while others are decreasing. To compare plan costs and calculate your exact out of pocket costs, or your CoBen cash back if your selections are lower than the CoBen Allowance, visit the CalHR Benefits Calculator and select “2019” and “Excluded Employee” before entering your options.

Be on the lookout for Open Enrollment forms from your department. If you are not making changes, no action is needed.


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Notable Points From The Governor's State Budget Report 2016-2017


On Thursday 1/8/16, Governor Brown released his proposed 2016-2017 State Budget. Brown claims that the budget still remains “precariously balanced” for the long term. Brown stated, “While timing is uncertain, the next recession is getting closer, and the state must begin to plan for it.”

Here are the proposals that affect ACSS and ACSS members:

State Employee Compensation

The Budget includes $220 million ($27 million General Fund) in 2016-17 for employee compensation and health care costs for active state employees. Included in these costs are collectively bargained salary increases for many of the state’s rank and file employees represented by bargaining unit 9 (engineers), which the Administration is extending to state managers and supervisors related to these employees. A 5% general raise in July of 2016 is the only currently      >> Read More...


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Bottom Line on the Budget: Administration Drops the HSA and Other Trailer Bill Objectives

Posted: 6/5/2015 Tags: bargaining budget health policy retirement Tags Views: 2760

ACSS has consistently pushed back on the “equal sharing” (50/50) of costs between employee and the state for funding retiree healthcare. We are pleased to report that on Friday June 5, the Administration agreed to drop language in the trailer bill requiring equal sharing of costs for retiree healthcare (as defined in Section 11 of the amended trailer bill). ACSS was concerned that 50/50 cost sharing would be implemented statutorily. We are declaring victory that this item is NOT becoming statue and is being dropped altogether from the budget. The Legislature has been supportive of our request to keep health care proposals out of state budget trailer bill language completely.

In addition, this week the Brown Administration tossed out the CalPERS high deductible health care plan. The Administration realized that without a high deductible plan, there is little use for an HSA. In addition, the Administration also removed some trailer bill language that applies to new hire’s formula for retiree healthcare plans, increases the vesting period for new hires, and removes some language in reference to Medicare reimbursements. The Administration has decided to drop these objectives from the budget and instead, pursue them in bargaining. Battling it out with the bargaining units may take months, which means that implementation for managers and supervisors may be drawn out even further.

The amended trailer bill language:

  • requires verification of eligible health care plan participants
  • defines, in more detail, the prefunding of employee contributions
  • lists requirements that CalPERS report to the Department of Finance on costs and status of health care plans
  • sets a lock on the state retiree health account until 2046

At this point, we can conclude that these objectives are the bottom line adjustments to the budget from the Administration.


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May Budget Revision Reveals More Money Than Previously Predicted

Posted: 5/15/2015 Tags: budget health pension retirement Tags Views: 2591

Image courtesy of www.StockMonkeys.com 

Compared to the January Budget, in the May Revise, released on 5/14, Governor Brown disclosed $6.7 billion more dollars available to put to use for 2015-16. While this is good news that there is more money available, the vast majority of it will go to public elementary schools, lower-income households, the rainy day fund, CSU and the UC school system (to cover pension debt). Very little of the May Revise was new material for state workers, and revealed more depth of the same proposals we have already known about.

On the hot topic of heathcare and retirement, the Administration continues to move forward with their more cohesive “3-pronged approach” to managing the $72 billion unfunded liability. 1) Prefunding retiree healthcare is most certainly pushing forward. 2) Newly hired state employees will be required to work longer to receive retirement compensation. And 3) more affordable healthcare plans (hinting towards HSA plans) will be implemented. Again, these concepts are not new, but they are becoming more concrete into an impending reality.

As for civil service, the May Revise proposes $57 million in new state employee compensation and reduces contributions to CalPERS down by $110 million. Proof that pension reform is indeed working. It also reiterated the proposals to streamline classifications, abolish vacant positions and broaden recruitment efforts in civil service.

Click here to download the official full version of the May Revise.


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Myths vs. Facts on CalPERS Pensions, Investments, Health Care, and More!

Posted: 5/13/2015 Tags: health pension policy retirement Tags Views: 3024

CalPERS has provided a list of Myths versus Facts to address common misconceptions.  Test your knowledge on the following CalPERS issues related to pensions, investments, accountability, ethics, and health care. 

MYTH -or- FACT? Most Police and firefighters retire at age 50 with 90 percent of pay.

MYTH -or- FACT? CalPERS doesn't promote a public pension database so it can hide pension amounts.

MYTH -or- FACT? CalPERS Long-Term Care Program is financially unstable.

MYTH -or- FACT? Taxpayers pay 100 percent of retiree health care costs.

For more Myth or Fact questions and to see answers to the questions above, click here to read the full article on the CalPERS website.


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Q2 2015 Newsletter is now online! Feature: Prefunding Retiree Healthcare

Posted: 4/15/2015 Tags: budget health insurance retirement Tags Views: 2783

Posted: 4/15/2015


The Q2 2015 Newsletter is now online! This issue features Another Attack on Employee Compensation: Prefunding Retiree Healthcare. Check it out now!


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Supplemental Information on Prefunding Retirement and New Health Benefit Plans

Posted: 2/4/2015 Tags: benefits budget health insurance retirement Tags Views: 3484

Posted: 2/4/2015

Last month, Gov. Jerry Brown made a speech revealing details of the 2015 budget. In this proposed budget, he mentioned two items that piqued the interest of state supervisors, managers and excluded employees: prefunding retirement and new health benefit plans. These proposals have the potential to impact state workers for decades to come. An article posted recently by the Sacramento Bee describes these plans in greater detail.

The proposed plan, effective Jan 1 2016, would mandate an unspecified cash contribution to offset retiree insurance benefits that employers and employees would split. Taxpayers would have to pitch in millions of dollars each year to prefund retirement benefits.

In addition, the bill would require CalPERS to offer a high-deductible health insurance plan plus a low-cost Medicare-supplement plan for retirees. Current retirees could see their insurance subsidy decline if a considerable amount of state workers opt for the high-deductible plan.

For detailed information on these bills, read the full text of the state budget bill proposals from the State Department of Finance.


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