Cuts may pull the trigger on CSU employee health care

Tough budgetary times and risks of further cuts may force the Cal State University to “modify” health care contributions for its employees, according to the CSU’s website.

Currently, the CSU pays for 95 percent of its employees’ total premium costs, according to the Committee on Finance’s [COF] agenda from the Sept. 18-19 CSU Board of Trustees meeting.

According to the agenda, the state of California, on average, pays less than 80 percent of its employees’ same health benefit plans.

The CSU paid approximately $356 million in health care benefits for the 2011-12 academic year, according to the COF agenda.

This is an approximately 19.6 percent increase from 2007-08, when the CSU paid about $306 million in healthcare benefits, according to the agenda.

CSU Spokesman Erik Fallis said there is a possibility that employee health care benefits may be modified.

Fallis said that modifying employee health care benefits may be necessary to deal with the possible $250 million trigger cut if Proposition 30 does not pass.

However, California Faculty Association Communications Specialist Brian Ferguson said that the possibility of health care cuts at this stage is “little more than an idea.”

“The faculty are … strongly protected,” Ferguson said.

Prop. 30’s would raise the sales tax in California and increase personal income tax for those earning more than $250,000 per year. The tax initiative would help to maintain state funding for the CSU if it passes, but if it fails then the 23-campus system would face a $250 million trigger cut.

If CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed were to cut benefits, Ferguson said he would have to change current law or do it through collective bargaining.

“The Chancellor [and Board] took up a number of different proposals at the meeting [for cost reductions],” Ferguson said.

According to the COF agenda, “this modification is recommended even if the Governor’s tax initiative [Prop. 30] passes.”

“This is a long term-issue we have to deal with,” Fallis said. “Even without the cuts, we do have to address that health care costs continue to grow.”

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