House and Senate leaders have reached a compromise over whether the state should set up a self-funded health insurance plan for state employees.
The House wanted such a plan, but the Senate balked.
The compromise proposal sets up a separate committee to study the health insurance plan over the next two years – and that committee will come up with proposals to present to the Public Employees Retirement System board. That board would have the final say on which contract to accept.
"It does not commit us to it," said Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner (R-Dickinson). "But it makes us study it hard, and take a look at some proposals and bids. We can take a real good look at how what we have today compares to self-insurance in the real world."
Wardner said there's a lot of questions to be answered.
House Majority Leader Al Carlson (R-Fargo) said it is his hope that the committee will take a very close look at self-insurance. He told reporters he thinks self-insurance will be a winner for the state.
"You never get there until you get that bid," Carlson said. "The committee will design the request for proposal. And it could contain such things as health savings accounts, wellness initiatives, higher deductibles -- all those could be part of a state self-insurance plan."
A dispute over PERS prevented the Legislature from finishing its work in the allotted 80 days two years ago.