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Politics & Government

House committee endorses 'self-insurance' bill for state employees

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ND Legislature
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Credit ND Legislature
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Rep. Josh Boschee (D-Fargo).

A House committee has endorsed a bill to create a self-insurance plan for state employees’ health benefits.

The vote in the House Industry, Business and Labor Committee was 10 to 3 for a “do pass.”

The Committee chairman, Rep. George Keiser (R-Bismarck) said the other 49 states have self-insurance plans, as do virtually all companies employing more than 750 people.

"It is the least expensive program for the state of North Dakota," Keiser said. "It also provides the greatest flexibility."

Keiser said state employees would see few changes in their health benefit plan.

"We can incentivize certain health behaviors we can't incentivize," Keiser said. "I'm a firm believer in preventative medicine, and self-insuring gives the states and larger businesses a lot of opportunities to do things that improve the quality of health of their covered employees."

Rep. Joshus Boschee (D-Fargo) said this bill is a "very strong overreach."

"We have the PERS board, which is made up of public employees and representatives of the Legislature," Boschee said. "They're the experts when it comes to policies related to the public employee health plan. This is a step too far."

If it passes the House, the Senate will take a look. But Keiser said the Senate has not been keen on this idea.

"Everyone assumes self insurance is very risky," Keiser said. "If done correctly, it's less risky than a fully insured plan."

Keiser said the premiums would be higher under a private plan.

"Forty nine states can't be wrong," Keiser said.

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