Tennessee Education Association

Great Public Schools for All Students


TEA and Educator Health Insurance Legislation

TEA has received reports of false information concerning TEA’s involvement in decisions of the State Group Insurance Plan (SGIP) and proposed legislation affecting the plan. It is important for all members to know:

  • TEA is not involved in legislation on gap insurance, SB2111/HB2410. That legislation will pass or fail on its fiscal note;
  • TEA has worked hard to increase state teacher insurance funding by more than $60 million;
  • TEA has pushed for an increase of state teacher pay funding by more than $200 million;
  • It is the responsibility of the state to make sure educator health insurance is sound.

SB2111/HB2410 has been introduced to allow supplemental gap insurance for employees in the Limited plan, something many systems have done. The state says the limited/gap combination creates higher state payouts while lowering funds from premiums, creating a drain on the plan. The reason for the bill is because the state is considering how to deal with the financial hit from increased enrollment in the Limited PPO paired with a /gap insurance policy.  

Has the self-funded SGIP taken a financial hit? Gap insurance salesmen say no and the state says yes, and that’s where the legislation will live or die. In Tennessee every piece of legislation has a note from the Fiscal Review Committee, and SB2111 has a very large one (click to see here), more than $11 million recurring by the state’s reckoning. If the note doesn’t change the bill probably dies. TEA doesn’t control Fiscal Review, which is an independent office of the General Assembly. TEA believes the state numbers are hard to disprove—claims are claims in self-insured plans.           

That doesn’t help school systems who used limited/gap to offer health insurance to all employees. For two years the state did not tell systems about possible problems with limited/gap, or facts regarding the Affordable Care Act, or fictions about tax penalties for teachers. Systems were told by vendors they had no choice but to bring in all employees and give them the same insurance, and many made budget by encouraging enrollment in the Limited PPO plus a gap policy.    

The state has a responsibility to make sure school system costs remain stable as they deal with keeping the plan solvent. It is not enough for the SGIP to simply say systems can’t do this anymore, they need to be more engaged with solutions.    

For two years TEA has been working to increase state insurance funding by more than 20 percent and state salary money by more than eight percent. Anybody who indicates we are not about pay and benefits of educators doesn’t know TEA. We are constantly working on the issue of insurance for the benefit of members.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email Jim Wrye, TEA assistant executive director and chief lobbyist.   

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