Members of the General Assembly like to assert that they had no choice but to pass State Health Plan legislation earlier in the session. It was necessary to save the plan. That much is true. What is absolutely untrue, however, is that legislators had to pass the specific bill that they passed.
In fact, as we have noted on many occasions, the harmful “wellness” provisions in the State Health Plan bill will cost money and provide no proven savings. Again, these will cost money and do irreparable harm to state employees and their families.
As Adam Searing pointed out recently, state employees are less expensive to insure than the average commercially insured employee in the South. In other words, state employees are not more unhealthy than other workers.
But the legislation was passed and signed and now legislators are considering how to punish those sneaky state employees who falsely claim they are smoke-free. Jack Walker, executive director of the State Health Plan, wants to randomly subject all state employees to saliva tests, privacy be damned.
If Walker finds that a state employee has lied on their smoking disclosure form, much as Walker lied when he claimed to have an accredited PhD and a dissertation published by the University of Michigan, then the state employee will be sent to a health plan with higher out of pocket expenses. But that’s not all. Walker also wants authority to increase the deductibles of these ne’er-do-wells and possibly boot them from the State Health Plan altogether for one year.
So now legislators could entirely strip state employees of insurance coverage because of these ridiculous wellness provisions. The State Health Plan is out of control. It needs a new administrator. And it needs to be run by an independent board.