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Township opts out of healthcare contribution cap

By Kevin Elliott

The Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees on Monday, November 28, voted unanimously to opt out of a state-mandate that caps the amount of money public employers pay toward healthcare costs.

The law, known as the Publicly Funded Health Insurance Contributions Act, places a hard cap on healthcare costs, and may create an 80/20-percent split in costs, with the employer paying 80 percent and employees 20 percent. The law also allows municipalities to opt out of the cap on an annual basis.

Since 2011, Bloomfield Township has voted to opt out of the cap requirement and negotiate costs during collective bargaining. Township officials have said the negotiations result in bigger savings to employees and a more personalized system that better suits the needs of the township and its employees.

In 2019, several Bloomfield Township residents pushed to change the practice and asked for the board to require caps on coverage, assuming it would save the township money. Healthcare consultants at that time said the change would raise rates significantly for single employees, as well as families under the plan. At that time, the board voted to continue opting out of the caps, with former trustee David Buckley and now supervisor Dani Walsh voting against the motion to opt out.

Bloomfield Township Finance Director Jason Theis said the current employees on the plan pay a $25 per month premium, and families pay $50. However, those in the plan pay portions of other costs that help to maintain lower monthly premiums. If the board decided to implement the caps, the cost for a single employee would be about $80-$100, and a family would be $235-$350 per month. Further, Theis said union contracts require the township to make employees whole for the cost increases if the township decides to implement the caps instead of determining costs during collective bargaining.

The board on Monday voted unanimously to opt out of the state law, with trustee Michael Schostak absent.

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