Wyoming Legislature may prevent cities from joining state health insurance pool - Casper, WY Oil City News
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Wyoming Legislature may prevent cities from joining state health insurance pool

File Photo (Trevor T. Trujillo, Oil City News)

CASPER, Wyo. — Cities and towns in Wyoming currently have the option of joining the state’s health insurance pool to provide coverage to their employees.

Casper, for example, is set to join the state’s pool in January. But a bill that will come before the Wyoming Legislature in spring 2020 would prevent municipalities from joining the state pool.

The bill may put Casper in a position where the city would need to return to a self-funded health insurance model.

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“No political subdivision other than a school district or board of cooperative educational services shall be eligible to elect to initially participate in the Wyoming state employees’ and officials’ group insurance plan on or after April 1, 2020,” the proposed bill reads. “Any political subdivision other than a school district or board of cooperative educational services which is participating in the plan prior to April 1, 2020 shall not be eligible to renew participation in the plan after the expiration of the political subdivision’s initial participation period.” 

Casper decided to join the state’s pool after learning that was an option available to them.

“While a recent Wyoming Attorney General’s opinion interpreted current Wyoming statute to allow cities, towns, and counties as political subdivisions to be eligible to join the State group insurance plan, Employees’ Group Insurance (EGI) has not requested or received any spending authority budget changes for the 2021-22 biennium budget,” a fiscal note on the proposed legislation reads. “Cities, towns and counties that participate in the EGI plan would be required to pay the same premiums as other entities currently covered by the EGI plan to cover their administrative and claims costs.” 

“While one political subdivision has elected to enroll on January 1, 2020, no premiums have been collected and no claims have been paid as of December 2019.  This bill would keep EGI’s spending authority at current levels, prior to the addition of political subdivisions.”

Members of the Casper City Council have said that a larger pool of participants in a health insurance pool should keep that system more affordable.

Joining a larger pool was one of the reasons why the city council decided in August to have Casper join the state’s health fund.

Casper’s employees will get a one-time bonus payment of $250 to help cover the cost of having to pay for both City of Casper and State of Wyoming health insurance premiums in December.

City Manager Carter Napier explained ahead of the council’s last meeting that their coverage under the state system goes into effect in January, but that the state requires employees pay premiums for the month prior.

The proposed legislation is sponsered by the legislature’s Joint Corporations, Elections & Political Subdivisions Interim Committee.