The Governor and four elected officials who make up the state executive council voted Monday to drop insurance carrier United Healthcare — leaving Wellmark as the only carrier for state employees. Government administrators say the move could save the state up to 9.5 million dollars next year.
Governor Chet Culver, a Democrat, says it could also save some families who’re forced to switch providers up to $100 a month. Culver says, "That’s why I’ve advocated for this option all along — is we continue to provide excellent healthcare, we’re reducing costs and were saving taxpayers millions."
The executive council voted 3-2 in favor of the move with Republican Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey voting against the move. Northey says he worries having a single provider of insurance will mean fewer choices for state employees, and eventually lead to increased costs.
Northey says the state does need to find savings, but the savings impact real families, which could lose an option they once had and then won’t be able to get coverage without traveling across the state. United Healthcare had provided coverage for only 2,500 of the state’s 28,000 employees.
Iowa Secretary of State Michael Mauro, a Democrat, voted against the idea along with Northey, while State Auditor David Vaudt, a Republican, and State Treasurer Michael Fitzgerald, a Democrat, voted for the move along with Culver.