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Campus News
Your faculty and staff news since 1965
February 16, 2004
Volume 39, Number 12
News from
Human Resources

Health insurance bill topic for summit

By Susan Carkeek

During the New Mexico legislative session, the Department of Human Resources routinely tracks bills that directly affect UNM employees. These include bills that address retirement, health insurance and compensation issues.

This session two bills addressing retirement were of particular interest. One involved changes to the retiree return-to-work program and the other proposed increases in both employee and employer contributions to ERA. Neither of these passed.

Also of special interest to us this year were several bills that addressed the amount of employer contributions to health insurance for employees in the public sector. The cost of health insurance continues to rise and we were pleased that the legislature attempted to address problems associated with ever-increasing costs.

Currently, state law mandates that UNM contribute to an employee’s insurance based on annual salary. If an employee earns less than $15K per year, UNM contributes 75 percent. UNM contributes 70 percent for those earning between $15K and $20K, 65 percent for those with salaries between $20K and $25K and the contribution is 60 percent for employees who earn more than $25K per year. These contribution rates have been in place since 1984.

Of the five bills introduced on the subject of employer contributions for health insurance, only House Bill 451 was passed and the governor signed it March 5. This bill is unique in that it does not mandate increases to current employer contributions, but modifies the language of the law to allow employers to increase their contributions if budgets allow. Unfortunately the bill did not come with an appropriation of funds. To increase our employer contribution to health insurance, the university would need to identify funds from other sources. This is one of the issues that the Department of Human Resources has put fourth for campus discussion in the president’s upcoming Budget Summit (President's Update).