Opinions Flare Over Public Health Care Plan

By: Lauren Zakalik Email
By: Lauren Zakalik Email

House Speaker Andy Dillon may have only spoken for a short time Thursday at a hearing on pooling all public workers health care; but his ideas have long-term implications.

He says by pooling the health care of nearly 400,000 public workers,, including slashing thousands of plans down to just a handful and buying prescription discounts in bulk, we could save the state nearly a billion dollars annually.

"There's been a little bit of backlash, but people are really keeping an open mind going forward,' Dillon says. "The school bus driver would have the same plan as the Governor."

But the hearing Thursday fired up some critics of the plan, namely some major state employees unions who feel their members are about to get slighted.

"There's no merit to the whole thing," says Michael Migrin of the Michigan State Employees Association. "We're going to lose more as employees; when we pick up the benefits there's going to be a cost-shift."

Some, including representatives on Dillon's self-appointed hearing panel, say the savings the plan promises are too abstract.

"We need to see more meat on the bone. It's too ambiguous to make a decision intelligently," Migrin says.

"Everything we've looked at shows we don't know how they're going to get those savings and keep quality," says AFL-CIO's Mike Keller.

Committee Chairwoman Pam Byrnes, (D) Chelsea, tells us she has not formed an opinion yet-- and also wants to hear in extreme detail how we'd really save up to $900 million a year.

Four-hundred-thousand public workers and their families are waiting to hear, too.

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