Teachers’ health insurance bill passes Senate committee

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BOISE, Idaho — Legislation allowing Idaho public schools to subscribe to state medical and dental group health insurance plans passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously on Monday, bringing it closer to just over its entry into force.

House Bill 443 would create the Public Schools Health Insurance Participation Fund – a dedicated account filled with the one-time amount school districts need to join the state’s self-funded health insurance plan.

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Lawmakers have tried to address teacher health insurance for more than a decade. Schools are allowed to opt for the State health insurance scheme – administered by Blue Cross of Idaho – but often not because of the cost.

Rep. Rod Furniss, R-Rigby, who proposed HB 443, proposed a similar invoice in the 2021 regular session. However, he failed the Senate Education Committee on March 15.

HB 443 recently cleared the House body in a 55-14 vote.

Little’s proposed state budget 2022 includes $105 million in general fund dollars to help school districts cover the cost of employee health insurance. The credit would increase the $8,400 schools receive per employee to $12,500, the equivalent of what the state pays for its employees for health insurance.

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Money for the plan would have to be approved by the legislature’s budgeting committee, the House and the Senate before being deposited into the dedicated fund.

According to the legislation, schools would have until June 2024 to spend money from the fund. The state would allocate unused dollars to the public education stabilization fund or the state’s general fund.

The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration. If passed by the Senate, the bill would go to Governor Brad Little’s office for approval.

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