NJ public workers bring fight over big health plan rate hikes to Murphy at Statehouse rally

New Jersey’s labor unions were undeterred by rain clouds over Trenton Tuesday as hundreds of government workers descended on the Statehouse in labor’s latest push to fend off massive rate hikes on health insurance premiums.

A coalition of at least 14 unions organized the rally after Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration signaled it would move forward with a vote Wednesday on proposed rate increases of more than 20% for state health plans.

A deep of union members filled the outside corridor of the Statehouse annex and spilled into West State Street, where crowds of off-duty police officers and firefighters gathered, listening to the handful of speakers lined up for the event.

“Governor Murphy, hear our call,” the crowd shouted, as chants echoed off the annex walls.

New Jersey state troopers blocked off a section of the roadway between Calhoun and Barrack streets, where a line of buses sat empty after

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Big rate hike for NJ public worker health benefits approved, but late deal eases pain for some

The State Health Benefits Commission on Wednesday approved rate increases of about 21% on state worker health plans and nearly 23% on local government benefits.

But a last-minute deal reached after the meeting could ease a bit of the pain for some public workers.

The new rates will affect the health plans that cover more than 800,000 state and local government workers, and it could have financial implications for millions of New Jersey taxpayers.

After Wednesday’s vote, five labor unions issued a joint-statement saying they had reached an agreement with Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration that will limit the increase on state employee contributions to 3%, shifting the rest of the financial burden to the state.

As part of the compromise, union leaders said they agreed to double co-pays for specialists from $15 to $30 and increase co-pays for urgent care from $15 to $45.

The agreement only applies to plans

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Assisted living workers in Easton continue strike, say they can’t afford health plan proposal

Workers at the Gardens for Memory Care at Easton continued to strike Wednesday, saying they can’t afford a proposed change to their current health plan coverage.

At 10:30 am, about 20 employees wearing the purple shirts of their SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania union took to the grounds outside the medical facility, 500 Washington St., for a news conference on the picket line. The group carried signs that read, “We Say No To Corporate Greed,” “Honk 4 Workers” and “Union Strong.” They chanted, “They say cut back, we say fight back.” Passing motorists yelled out words of encouragement from open windows and honked.

The workers with SEIU, or Service Employees International Union, began striking this past Friday at 14 statewide facilities, including the Easton facility. They walked off the job after at least 11 bargaining sessions, the Gardens for Memory Care at Easton administration previously said in a statement.

The union group

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California congressman demands more transparency from health care sharing ministries

(RNS) — Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, health care “sharing ministries” sprang up as more affordable options to the policies offered by national insurance companies for the Obamacare marketplace. Often developed by Christian organizations, the sharing ministries had the further advantage of being exempted from ACA’s mandates on contraception and abortion. Small religious communities were told they could cover their members while preserving their moral principles.

The sharing ministries are not health insurance, though critics say they are often billed as such. Rather, they are cooperatives in which consumers pool their money to help each other through medical emergencies. While they have existed for decades, enrollment in these programs has been estimated to grow from about 100,000 members in 2010 to 1.5 million members in 2020.

Now US Rep. Jared Huffman, the congressman for much of California’s Bay Area, is going after what he calls

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How marketplace enrollees can claim a share of $603 million in rebates

Kateryna Onyshchuk | iStock | Getty Images

If you get your health insurance through the public marketplace, you may want to keep an eye out for a check from your insurer.

Insurance companies are distributing $1 billion in rebates to 8.2 million policyholders, beginning this month. Of those, the majority — an estimated $603 million — will go to people with a health plan through either the federal health exchange or their state’s marketplace (if it has one), according to an estimate from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The average rebate for marketplace enrollees is $141 per eligible participant.

While not everyone who gets coverage that way will receive a rebate, it’s worth being sure not to ignore mailings from your insurance company (or your insurer in 2021, if different).

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