Senate Insurance committee chairman Jason Rapert (R-Conway) says he sees lawmakers coming to agreement on short-term and long-term solutions to solve the public school employee insurance crisis and he hopes the Governor will quickly call a special session to fix it.
“We’re starting to reach consensus. There’s definitely consensus that we have to do something short-term,” Rapert said on Sunday morning’s KARK Capitol View.
He said a $43 million injection of funding from the state’s surplus plus a 10% insurance premium increase for teachers and public school employees are the likeliest paths to shoring up a $53 million deficit.
“No one went into this thinking you could maintain no increase whatsoever,” Rapert said of the additional 10% premium hike for plan participants.
Rapert commented on several of the long-term solutions where lawmakers have found consensus, including restructuring the oversight board, raising plan deductibles, and steering more people into the bronze-level plans.
The board restructuring needs more teacher representatives and more members with a background in employee and insurance benefits, said Rapert.
“You need people on that board who can make decisions with an understanding of what the impacts are going to be,” he said.
Rapert also said that he did not expect ethics reform to be on the call for the special session.
“The crisis right now is the teacher health insurance program,” Rapert said, “Please don’t invoke other issues that would detract from that.”
You can watch his full interview from KARK’s Capitol View below.