Educators Divided on Dillon's Health Care Reform

By: Tiffany Teasley Email
By: Tiffany Teasley Email

It would limit layoffs and keep cuts from the classroom, that's the message Michigan administrators were pushing Tuesday in support of House Speaker Andy Dillon's plan to consolidate health care for public employees.

"I would argue this will save thousands of teacher jobs, we're looking at a a per pupil cut that is very deep, this fiscal crisis is worse than it was two years ago," said Rep. Andy Dillon (D) Speaker of The House.

Out of the nearly $900 million that Dillon says the plan would save, administrators estimate nearly $500 million would be saved for education across the state.

"We have districts that could potentially be bankrupt and this a way of freeing up dollars that could go directly into the classroom," said Williams Mayes of the Michigan Association of School Administrators.

And superintendents agree, they say the plan would save their individual districts thousands of dollars per student.

"It could be anywhere from $2,000 to $4,000 per student, so if you look at that then you're looking at close to half a million dollars possibly for my district alone," said Tom Landon, Superintendent of Big Rapids Public Schools.

"More sacrifice has to be done," Mayes said.

While administrators promise educators would still have quality benefits, teachers unions view the plan as just another concession that would reduce the quality health care that teachers have had for years.

"What would have to be done to save the kind of money he's talking about is slashing benefits almost in half for some public employees, the budget simply can't be balanced on their backs," said Doug Pratt of the Michigan Education Association.

Pratt says public school employees have already saved the state nearly $700 thousand over the last three years.

"By paying more out of pocket for co-pays and premiums and by simply accepting less expensive health plans," Pratt said.

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  • by local teacher on Aug 5, 2009 at 12:28 PM
    To Anonymous (8/2) THANK YOU. From the bottom of my heart. I appreciate what you have said here.
  • by Anonymous on Aug 2, 2009 at 04:13 AM
    To board mom and others who support this bill, I would like you to think about the teachers you have had that made a difference in your lives. While many did not choose teaching as a career to get rich, they still have families to support. They are required by the state to continue their education, but receive no financial support to do so. They spend their own money for supplies and activities in the classroom. And, yes, they have more time off than most salaried positions, but during the school year the classroom consumes their lives. It is not a job that ends when the children leave. To take away the quality health care coverage that teachers receive would be yet another sacrifice teachers have been asked to make with out any thought to how important our teachers are. They are truly the backbone of our society. They have more influence on some children than their parents do. It is time they are given the respect they deserve.
  • by Albert Khobar Location: Lansing on Jul 30, 2009 at 07:37 PM
    This is the first step in making the state competitive to businesses. Which will in turn hire more employees, who will pay taxes. The key to turning the state around is improving the business tax.
  • by Anonymous on Jul 30, 2009 at 12:30 PM
    The unions hate it, they must be losing a 'hard earned' benefit.
  • by Anonymous on Jul 30, 2009 at 08:17 AM
    If you want to reduce cost, start making people pay more. They will start seeing how much their free care really cost.
  • by Laura Paige Location: East Lansing, MI on Jul 29, 2009 at 04:31 PM
    Just because Dillon says it, doesn't make it so. Consolidation of health insurance plans for state and public employees will NOT save the State 900 million dollars. If Dillion wants to really save money by reducing health insurance costs why doesn't he go after the drug companies that mark up the cost of drugs that health insurance plans cover. Did you know that the consumer price of 100 tabs of Celebrex 100 mg costs approximate $135 but the actual cost of the active ingredients is only about 65 cents. That is a mark up of over 21,000%!
  • by tw on Jul 29, 2009 at 10:44 AM
    There are no savings to be had from Dillon's ill advised plan. This plan will cut health coverage for half a million Michigan workers and their families. This single payer system will lead to a reduction in per pupil funding, and school board and superintendents will lose local control.
  • by teacher on Jul 29, 2009 at 03:48 AM
    I would really like it if we could get to the point of understanding that teaching is not a part time job. I teach high school. I work from 7 am to 3 pm with a 25 minute lunch. Then, when my "work day" is over, I spend at least an hour each night grading papers and getting ready for the next day. During my "summers off" I am required to gain additional college credits, at my own expense, and redevelop my course materials. Maybe if board mom and others like her could see the amount of time teachers spend outside of school working, she could understand.
  • by Sandy on Jul 28, 2009 at 08:33 PM
    I teach Kindergarten and frankly this scares me. I walk into a classroom filled with germs everyday. I spend weeks of my year sick with colds, strep throat and the flu. It's very easy for administrators to be advocates of this, they see only money. Maybe they, along with those at the State Capitol should hang out in my classroom for a week. How often do any of them have children throw up on their desk or wet themselves on the carpet or chairs in their office? I rest my case.
  • by board mom Location: west michigan on Jul 28, 2009 at 08:29 PM
    I know of no other part time job that pays 50 thousand a year. What is the state mandate for days of instruction now? 177 per year?
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