Layoffs, health insurance changes could cloud state workers’ future

From The Current:

State employees — who were forced this year to start paying 3 percent for their pension — could find themselves dealing with higher costs or even layoffs in the coming year.

The prospect of yet another $2 billion shortfall heading into 2012 is prompting leading Republicans in the Florida Legislature to warn that more budget pain awaits state workers.

Incoming Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, said he wants the state to consider changes that would change premium prices for state employees based on the health choices they make, such as exercising, drinking or smoking cigarettes.

“Have you considered program design changes of that nature?” Gaetz asked.

Sen. JD Alexander, R-Lake Wales and chairman of the budget committee, said after the meeting that he wasn’t sure what changes would be made to the state group insurance plan.

Alexander, who has pushed unsuccessfully for two years to make aggressive changes to the state worker health insurance plan, said the Senate will look at the program “very carefully and try to find that right balance. What that means, I can’t just say yet. I don’t know yet.”

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