KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

N.J. Assembly Approves Changes To State Workers’ Benefits

Gov. Chris Christie is expected to sign the landmark legislation into law quickly. It will require state workers to pay more for health and pension benefits. 

The New York Times: New Jersey Lawmakers Approve Benefits Rollback For Work Force
New Jersey lawmakers on Thursday approved a broad rollback of benefits for 750,000 government workers and retirees, the deepest cut in state and local costs in memory, in a major victory for Gov. Chris Christie and a once-unthinkable setback for the state's powerful public employee unions. ... The legislation will sharply increase what state and local workers must contribute for their health insurance and pensions, suspend cost-of-living increases to retirees' pension checks, raise retirement ages and curb the unions' contract bargaining rights (Perez-Pena, 6/23).

The Wall Street Journal: NJ Slashes Public Worker Benefits
Gov. Chris Christie, who is expected to sign the bill Monday, said the second round of cuts under his watch will bring sufficient change to the issue that has roiled private-sector workers who saw their jobs eliminated and salaries and benefits slashed during the recession. ... workers will be paying more of their salaries into their pensions and pay more for health care. Their contributions will be calculated as a percentage of premiums, rather than a percentage of salary. They will have an array of plans to choose from, though the plans have not yet been set up (Fleisher, 6/24).

The Associated Press: NJ Assembly OKs Bill Hiking Benefits Costs
Most Democrats opposed the bill because it imposes new health care contributions on a half-million government workers through legislation and suspends collective bargaining over health benefits. Opponents called the bill union-bashing; proponents insist higher contributions from workers are needed to shore up the state's retirement systems, which are underfunded by $110 billion. The bill is meant to bring public employee benefits more in line with the private sector, then restore bargaining after a four-year hiatus (Delli Santi, 6/23).

Politico: New Jersey Passes Chris Christie's Benefits Reform 
The New Jersey Assembly passed the bill 46 to 32, and Christie is expected to sign the measure into law quickly. "Together, we're showing New Jersey is serious about providing long-term fiscal stability for our children and grandchildren," Christie said in a statement released following the vote. "We are putting the people first and daring to touch the third rail of politics in order to bring reform to an unsustainable system" (Summers, 6/23). 

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