Lawmakers grilled officials from Washington’s Health Benefit Exchange Thursday, making it clear they’ve heard plenty from constituents who say they’ve paid their premiums but still don’t have health coverage — in most cases because premiums, which they paid to the exchange, aren’t getting to the insurer. The lawmakers’ tales of patient woe were backed up by brokers, a representative of the state’s doctors and Len Sorrin, representing Premera Blue Cross.
Two Brookings scholars write, “EPA asks the most from states that have made large past investments in natural gas or nuclear power, and those that have set themselves the most ambitious plans for developing renewable energy sources. EPA’s attempts to avoid picking fights may be admirably prudent, but it is not fair.”
There is a striking generational split in the Democratic electorate. Even though younger voters lean toward the Democratic Party, they clearly do not fit into traditional left-right categories. An overwhelming majority of the older cohort, 83-12, believes that “government should do more to help needy Americans, even if it means more debt,” while a majority of the younger Democratic respondents, 56-39, believes “government cannot afford to do much more.”
The upshot is potentially a $1.2 billion bill next year for state and local government employers for the coming two-year budget cycle, and employees could be on the hook for $408 million more. But a phase-in of payments is possible. The Pension Funding Council meets July 28 and has the formal job of setting rates paid by state workers, teachers and local government workers, as well as governments in 2015-17.
Accepting the actuarial recommended rates could increase the funds required for pensions in the 2015-17 budget by $1.2 billion (including local government – $482 million for just the state’s general fund). Another potential pension bombshell is currently sitting at the State Supreme Court as justices consider a union lawsuit that could add another billion plus in pension costs.