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Balancing Dollars and Health Sense
Date:6/24/2008

New Center for Excellence Report: A Framework for Decision Making on

Funding State Retiree Health Care Benefits

WASHINGTON, June 24 /PRNewswire/ -- A new report from the Center for State and Local Government Excellence looks at the complexities surrounding the funding of state retiree health benefits and possible options to finance future obligations.

Balancing Dollars and Health Sense: A Framework for Decision Making on Funding State Retiree Health Care Benefits was written by the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research (IPPSR) at Michigan State University with a grant from the Center. It is the result of a request from the Michigan House of Representatives Committee on Retiree Health Care Reforms for research on retiree health care funding options.

Michigan has unfunded retiree health care obligations estimated at $22.7 billion. The Michigan House formed the Committee on Retiree Health Care Reforms in July 2007 to develop strategies to address this unfunded liability.

Balancing Dollars and Health Sense looks at practices from eight states -- Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Vermont, Hawaii, and Massachusetts; explores ways to manage a smooth transition from the current pay-as-you-go approach to developing one that will effectively address the unfunded liabilities and rising retiree health care costs over the long term; and offers recommendations to policymakers, including:

-- Establish a nonpartisan commission to develop a plan and keep the public and state employees informed of its progress.

-- Create an irrevocable 115 Trust Fund and consider multiple approaches to fund it.

-- Merge administration of plans managed by the State as much as possible to unify the purchasing process and increase bargaining power, while keeping employee group plans separate.

-- Assure current retirees they will receive promised benefits.

-- Balance the need to control costs with the need to keep the plans affordable for employees.

-- Include incentives for employee wellness.

The report was written by Harry Perlstadt, PhD, MPH, a professor in Michigan State University's Department of Sociology; AnnMarie Schneider, MS, director of Program Planning and Policy Education, MSU Legislative Leadership Program, IPPSR; and Ryan Kevin Kelly, MHRLR, a research assistant with IPPSR, School of Labor and Industrial Relations, Michigan State University. It is based on interviews with government administrators, key policymakers, union leaders, human resources professionals, and research scholars. The research team also reviewed reports from actuarial firms, states such as California and Ohio, research institutes, and professional associations, as well as testimony presented to the Michigan House Committee on Retiree Health Care Reforms.

To read the full report visit http://www.slge.org/index.asp?Type=B_BASIC&SEC={ED445E61-FF4D-4990-ABC7- 4018FAA0A16D}&DE={B744A332-913B-48F1-BEE9-C3C35FE506E9}

(Copy and paste the link in your browser if necessary.)

About the Center for State and Local Government Excellence

The Center for State and Local Government Excellence helps state and local governments become knowledgeable and competitive employers so they can attract and retain a talented and committed workforce. The Center identifies best practices and conducts research on competitive employment practices, workforce development, pensions, retiree health security, and financial planning. The Center also brings state and local leaders together with respected researchers and features the latest demographic data on the aging workforce, research studies, and news on health care, recruitment, and succession planning on its website, http://www.slge.org.


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SOURCE The Center for State and Local Government Excellence
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