After a year of work and advocacy by CWA and other public sector union representatives on New Jersey’s State Health Benefits Design Committee, nearly 40,000 CWA public workers will see no increase in health care costs in 2018 due to union-led efforts netting savings for members and taxpayers.
This is the first time that health care costs have not increased for CWA members since Governor Christie signed the sweeping pension and health benefits overhaul in 2011 which shifted costs for coverage to workers and eliminated the right for public sector workers to collectively bargain healthcare.
Instead, Christie’s overhaul then tasked the State Health Benefits Design Committee made up of six Christie appointees and six union representatives the authority to create and modify state-administered health care plans.
CWA has been on the cutting edge of trying to push back public worker health care cuts with innovative approaches to healthcare that save money, but not at the expense of workers. In 2016, CWA and other public sector union representatives brought forward a proposal to change the management of the prescription system, so that the State is not being over-billed by the Pharmacy Benefits Manager. The state initially resisted the proposed change, but the unions persisted and finally won state cooperation by demonstrating that New Jersey had the opportunity to save over $1 billion dollars without any changes to worker health care benefits.
The saving did not come easy” said NJ Area Director Hetty Rosenstein. “The state was initially resistant to changing its long-standing bidding practices. It took over a year for the union representatives on the design committee to convince their state-appointee counterparts to look into this progressive, but common sense way of achieving vast savings.”
Our union is proud of what it accomplished in this process and looks forward to identifying more ways to control costs in the future.
CWA members in New Jersey can get more information and updates on health care at www.cwanj.org/shbp