Home Must Reads Kitzhaber nixes universities’ hopes of cutting health costs

Kitzhaber nixes universities’ hopes of cutting health costs

| Print |  Email
Must Reads
Wednesday, January 09, 2013

 

Oregon’s seven state universities have been clamoring for years for more independence from bureaucratic state regulations. As taxpayer support for them has waned, Oregon University System officials argue, the schools should have more freedom to run themselves like businesses and control their own costs. And two years ago, Gov. John Kitzhaber agreed, signing a bill that gave the universities some of the freedom they sought.

OUS officials have found a way to use that newfound independence to save money—$67 million in the next two-year budget—on employees’ health premiums.

That’s savings that could lower students’ tuition. But it’s also too much independence for the governor: Kitzhaber has told the universities no.

“It’s craziness,” says state Rep. Mark Johnson (R-Hood River), who co-chaired the House Higher Education Subcommittee in 2011. “It’s just another way of the system saying, ‘We’d like to be efficient,’ up until it threatens one of the sacred cows.”

In this case, the sacred cow that’s being protected is the Public Employees’ Benefit Board, the insurance pool that negotiates health-care coverage for 50,000 state employees. Currently, 13,000 OUS employees—about a quarter of the pool—get their health coverage this way.

But an analysis by OUS finance chief Jay Kenton given to lawmakers last month shows the universities pay $33 million-plus a year more into the insurance pool than their employees get back in benefits.

 

Read more in Willamette Week.

 

More Articles

A Taste of Heaven

September 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
BY VIVIAN MCINERNY

Craft beer comes to Mount Angel.


Read more...

Shipping News

September 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
BY JENNIFER MARGULIS

In 2012 The Dalles, a city of some 14,400 located 75 miles east of Portland and often seen as the poor cousin to adjacent Hood River, completed a massive project to revitalize its dock.


Read more...

Molecular Movies

September 2014
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

Dr. Chong Fang isn’t God. But the assistant professor of chemistry at Oregon State University is getting closer to figuring out how he put everything together. 


Read more...

Buyer's Remorse

September 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Parents and students paying for college today are like homeowners who bought a house just before the housing bubble burst.


Read more...

Report Card

September 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Strong public schools shore up the economy, survey respondents say. But local schools demonstrate lackluster performance.


Read more...

Tight and Loose

September 2014
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
BY JENNIFER MARGULIS

As schools implement more rigorous academic standards, holistic and flexible approaches to K-12 education flourish.


Read more...

A Good Leap Forward

September 2014
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

Agriculture businesses ramp up to meet international demand as workforce and succession challenges loom.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS