"While several towns were impacted during the “Great Recession,” forcing them to lay off and furlough workers, one expert predicts towns will go through another “municipal tsunami."PolitickerNJ.com
As reported last week on PolitickerNJ.com, Professor Raphael J. Caprio of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy painted a stark picture before the New Jersey League of Municipalities last week. With major reductions in state aid, a lagging economy, and soaring costs for government services towns are facing a "tsunami" in the coming years.
According to PolitickerNJ.com, Caprio told the audience: "An example of that impact is the increased health insurance costs public sector employees are facing, and will face, due to the pension and health benefit reform legislation passed last year. He said over the next five years, the increased health costs will amount to a net income loss for public workers that is equivalent to between 8 and 10 percent."
From The Citizens Campaign's perspective, the first step towns need to take is creating a competitive process for obtaining insurance coverage. We all do this in our private loves -- with car insurance, life insurance, homeowners insurance -- why shouldn't it be the same for municipalities buying health insurance. State law allows local governments to dole out these huge contracts without any competition.
And, because insurance can be a very difficult commodity to procure, towns need the services of an insurance broker - someone who knows the system and can craft a package. Unfortunately, broker services are also exempt from competition and to make it worse the broker's are usually paid a commission by the insurance company they select, not the government entity. So, are they motivated to get the best price for insurance. Maybe, or maybe not.
Which is why The Citizens Campaign has been urging towns and school boards to get ahead of the "tsunami" and face the rising health insurance costs head on by adopting our Best Price Insurance reform. To rein in the cost of health insurance as best we can, we need to inject competition into the system, and requiring transparency in the process and accountability from those providing the services. And when we say "We" we mean YOU. Local elected officials, Citizens, Homeowners, Public Employees -- we all have an interest in seeing our communities grow and prosper, so it's time for you to bring our model best price insurance model law to your next local government meeting.
The worst that could happen - your town officials say no and miss out on possibly saving millions of dollars. But then at least you know what you need to next November.