WRS News Online

Legislative Update

by Tarna Hunter, ETF Legislative Liaison

Tarna Hunter Photo
Tarna Hunter

The biennial budget bill (2015 Wisconsin Act 55) became law on July 12. The budget contains a number of provisions that relate to the Department of Employee Trust Funds and its administration of the Wisconsin Retirement System and other benefit programs. These include:

State Group Health Insurance Program: The Group Insurance Board was required to make appropriate changes to the state group health insurance program in order to realize $81 million in efficiencies and savings over the biennium. At its May meeting, the GIB approved benefit changes and increased member cost sharing in 2016 – these changes will provide a projected cost savings of $85 million over the next two years. See the resources listed below for links to much more detailed information about the changes for 2016 and how they affect employees – both state and local – participating in the group health insurance program.

Changes to Elected Official / Executive / Judge Category: Act 55 allows the ETF Board to move all current Elected Official/Executive/Judge Category members into the General Category for purposes of setting annual contribution rates. In addition, the law changed the normal retirement age for the Elected Official/Executive/Judge Category from age 62 to age 65 for new employees entering the category after December 31, 2016. The retirement age will not change for existing employees. The ETF Board’s actuary confirmed that moving the Elected Official/Executive/Judge Category into the General Category will not have a material effect on General employees.

Employee Incentive to Opt Out of Health Insurance Program. This provision provides a $2,000 annual incentive for active employees who opt out of the state group health insurance program. Employees not eligible for this incentive include state employees who (a) chose not to be covered in calendar year 2015; and (b) a state employee whose spouse or domestic partner is also a state employee and is covered by state group health insurance program.

The legislature is still in session. We will continue to monitor developments and provide updates as they occur. Watch ETF’s website for the latest information and see the resources listed below.