Hannah Hoffman of the Statesman Journal reports:
The House Republicans today requested a floor vote on House Bill 3508, a bill that would allow the Oregon University System to withdraw from the Public Employees' Benefits Board. It wasn't granted a vote, but this idea is likely not going awayIt turns out that student tuition subsidizes other state employee PEBB costs because OUS healthcare costs are much lower. The OUS 2012 Health and Welfare Plans Report notes:
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The OUS did a study last year on its options and found it could save $67 million if it opted for its own plan instead of PEBB, which is self-insured.
The Republicans are on board with this idea.
“We need to give our universities every tool we can to curb the ever-rising costs associated with higher education,” Rep. Bruce Hanna, R – Roseburg said in a written statement. “I can’t understand why the legislature wouldn’t want to pass a bill that would allow our public universities to save an estimated $67 million. How can we tell students, parents and faculty with a straight face that we are ‘doing everything we can to support education’ when a simple administrative cost-saving measure does not even get consideration?
The university system’s distinguishing concern is that health insurance costs are significant drivers of tuition increases. By OUS’ analysis, in 2011-12 each 1% increase in the cost of group health insurance contributed a 0.63% increase to undergraduate resident tuition, and an increase of 0.24% to all tuition that includes graduate and non-resident students. With health insurance costs rising at rates of 5%-10% each year this is a significant driver of tuition.Oregon House Democrats seem unconcerned that Oregon university students are being saddled with $67 million in unnecessary tuition costs. These higher tuition costs put college education further and further out of reach of poor and middle class Oregon students, and result in significantly more student debt for those who do manage to enroll.
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Because tuition is such a significant revenue source for OUS, students and parents are primary payers of any increases in PEBB costs. (pp. 6-7) [emphasis added]