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Brandes seeks overhaul of employee health insurance


A Senate Republican on Wednesday filed a proposal aimed at overhauling the health-insurance program for state employees. The proposal (SB 1434), filed by Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, is similar to measures pushed in the past by House leaders, who have long sought changes in the insurance program.

In part, the bill would lead to the state in 2019 offering plans with four different benefit levels to employees.

Also starting that year, employees would be given an incentive to choose plans that have lower premium costs than the money contributed by the state for coverage. In such cases, employees would be able to use the leftover amounts to increase their salaries or for other health-related purposes, such as buying additional benefits.

Among other things, the bill also would adjust employee-contribution rates next year. The change would give employees a choice of paying more for richer HMO coverage or paying less for lower-value PPO coverage. The bill is filed for the 2016 legislative session, which starts Tuesday.