Hundreds of public employees rallied at the statehouse Tuesday against a proposed increase to their health insurance plans that could raise their costs as much as 20%, but which some say could trickle down to statewide taxpayers.
The State Health Benefits Commission, the panel responsible for setting insurance premiums, is set to vote on that increase Wednesday.
The rally, coordinated by the Communications Workers of America labor union, featured a large turnout of members from several other labor groups, including police and municipal workers. Speakers urged members to call the Treasury Department and the governor’s office to urge them to vote down the historic increase.
“Call today and then call again tomorrow when they make the wrong decision,” said Jim McAsey, mobilization coordinator for CWA New Jersey. “Or call tomorrow and thank them for making the right one.”
The Record Guild, made up of editorial staff of the USA TODAY Network New Jersey, belongs to the NewsGuild of New York, which is a chapter of the CWA. The potential health care increase does not affect Guild members.
There are about 816,000 public employees covered by the State Health Benefit Plan and the State Education Health Benefit Plan, according to the Treasury Department. This includes all manner of employees, from firefighters to teachers to local and state workers.
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The proposal could affect all state employees, as well as 763 county and municipal agencies employing a wide variety of workers from every county, according to information provided by the New Jersey Association of Counties.
In addition to driving up the cost of health care for these workers, labor officials warn, the trickle-down effect of the exponential increase