Guinn says state workers, retirees shouldn't have to bear cost of premiums

Gov. Kenny Guinn said Thursday state workers and their families shouldn't have to bear the full weight of rising premiums for their health benefits.

Guinn made the statements after Benefits Manager Woody Thorne confirmed the premiums are likely to increase as much as 22 percent during the next two years.

"My first year (as governor) was a 27 percent increase," said Guinn. "We can't afford to have families and employees pick up all of the increase."

He said if the Benefits Committee is forced to order that steep an increase in premiums, "we have every right to go back to Interim Finance Committee."

He said lawmakers on the finance committee control a contingency fund that could help offset part of the cost to state workers.

"That's why we have a reserve," he said.

Attorney General Frankie Sue Del Papa said she agreed with the governor. She also said the state must take a look at the effect non-state workers who retire and then join the plan are having on premiums paid by state workers.

Under Nevada law, local government and school workers can join the state benefits plan when they retire even if they've never been under state coverage. The number doing so may increase sharply because Clark County is planning to end coverage for its retirees.

She said those retirees must have access to health benefits, but the state needs to look at what effect they are having on its plan.


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