2/7/17 Federation Executive Director Greg Devereux said a bill to merge administration of our health benefits and retirement benefits makes no sense. SB 5653 would take our health benefits and the Public Employees Benefits Board program out of the Health Care Authority and put them under the Department of Retirement Systems.
Neither HCA nor DRS requested the merger. No one testified in favor of the bill.
“Such a merger may look good on paper but the programs are quite different, the respective staffs have different focuses and the agencies’ missions are quite different,” Devereux told the Senate Ways and Means Committee Tuesday afternoon (Feb. 7).
Two sets of health care experts would now have to exist in the separate agencies and that’s inefficient, he said.
“To extract a piece of that focus and put it together with Retirement Systems would take two somewhat disparate organizations and make our overall system of benefits less responsive,” Devereux said. “I don’t doubt such improvements can always be made in the PEBB program and at Retirement Systems, but I think such improvements should be contemplated in an agency that is focused like a laser on its mission without trying to combine different, quite complicated issues their mission.”
Sen. Randi Becker of the 2nd Dist. sponsored SB 5653 with 12 co-sponsors from her Senate Republican Caucus.