Just recently, Senator Robert Gordon (D-38), introduced legislation (S3535/A5225) to move County College employees and retirees from the School Employees’ Health Benefits Program (SEHBP) to the State Health Benefits Program (SHBP).

NJEA opposes such a move for several reasons. Under the SHBP:

  • Only the SHBP Plan Design Committee can make changes to SHBP coverages and benefits
  • NJEA has no representation on the SHBP Plan Design Committee or the State Health Benefits Commission
  • The state has majority representation on the State Health Benefits Commission, which has authority over the administration of the plan
  • Some SHBP plans limit access to preferred doctors
  • When members are deemed State Employees, $10 copay plans are not available
  • Emergency room copayments are higher
  • Members pay the full price difference if brand name prescriptions are chosen when generics are available
  • Out-of-network benefits for chiropractic, acupuncture treatment and physical therapy are reduced

These concessions by unions in the SHBP have cost their members more money in the form of higher copayments, higher coinsurances, and increased deductibles. In addition, this bill is an attempt to legislate lesser benefits where the covered members’ union has no voice on the applicable Design Committee. while quieting members’ voices on the Commission. The SEHBP Plan Design Committee has three union representatives, including two from the NJEA. The School Employees’ Health Benefits Commission has four union representatives, including three from the NJEA, three state representatives and one from NJ School Boards Association. The SHBP has three representatives from the state and two representatives from the AFL-CIO. When it come to their health benefits, our members deserve a place at the table of the governing bodies.

Please call Senator Bob Gordon, (D-38) at 201-703-9779 and tell him you oppose S3535, a blatant attempt to circumvent members’ collective bargaining rights and diminish their level of benefits.

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