Leave teachers' health care alone | Letters
February 11, 2012 · Updated 9:19 AM
There is legislation in the state Senate right now that would radically change teacher health benefits.
Senate Bill 6442 takes away the current health benefits of teachers, and forces all K-12 employees into a new state bureaucracy that costs more, provides fewer benefits and limits health care choices. This legislation is costly, complicated and confusing all at the same time.
I would be the first person to agree that public education has its issues: overcrowding, lack of resources, political wrangling about what education priorities should be. Those are some serious issues. So why is the state trying to pass legislation that would cost taxpayers millions to fix something that isn’t broken? Starting up anything new costs money, and in this case, it will cost the taxpayers an additional $21.5 million to start up, and then over $7 million additional dollars per year to run. The state was told just this last January that it wasn’t upholding its duty to fully fund education, and yet the only thing currently being addressed is the teacher health care system — which isn’t broken.
Correspondingly, SB 6442 adds another costly function to the state bureaucracy at a time when vital funding for K-12 education and other services is being cut. Bigger government won’t help us to have better health care, and bigger government won’t help kids learn what they need to know to be active, responsible citizens.
The Health Care Authority (HCA), one of the main groups pushing for these changes for teachers, has a spotty track record to boot: a court ruling against it for illegally barring some Medicaid patients from emergency care, a recent Seattle Times expose showing that some of its cost-cutting strategies harm patients, a 9-month backlog, and adding 100,000 new people to this system by requiring teachers to be part of this plan. This would only add to the morass.
The HCA proposal is a plan based on higher costs, bigger government, less competition and poor customer service. Call your legislators and tell them that SB 6442 is a bad idea for teachers, children and the community.
Kat Wamba, Federal Way