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Arizona lawmaker explores plan to lower teacher health insurance costs

Published: Tuesday, November 14, 2023 - 2:24pm

A Republican state lawmaker wants to give Arizona teachers the opportunity to enroll in health insurance plans reserved for state employees.

Right now, most Arizona school districts opt into insurance trusts that pool funds from multiple districts in order to obtain better rates and benefits. Rep. Matt Gress (R-Phoenix) says he’s exploring whether allowing those districts to join an even larger pool — such as the state’s health insurance trust fund — would make insurance more affordable for teachers and other school employees.

Gress said that his plan would allow school district’s to voluntarily opt into the state plan.

Chuck Essigs, director of government relations for the Arizona Association of School Business Officials, said the idea Gress is pitching is not new, but previous efforts to push the change were not successful.

“I know in the past it must have been determined that it wasn’t to the state or the school district’s advantage because it didn’t happen,” he said. 

Essigs said that health insurance needs vary dramatically between different organizations and that the concept of “bigger is better” does not always hold true. 

Gress said he is still in the process of meeting with education officials and looking at whether the proposal makes fiscal sense for the state.

“We have to do the math to make sure it’s the right call for the state,” Gress said. “I certainly don’t want to create more financial problems for the state or the health insurance trust fund.”

Politics Education Health + Medicine