The Republican members of the Senate Budget & Appropriations Committee criticized the State Treasurer today for not responding to nine pages of budget questions, and requests for data, about the State’s health insurance plans for public employees submitted seven months ago.
Senate Republican Leader Steven Oroho, Republican Budget Officer Declan O’Scanlon, Senator Sam Thompson, and Senator Michael Testa again requested that the State Treasurer, Elizabeth Maher Muoio, finally admit her lack of transparency and failure to ever provide responsive answers to routine budget questions and requests for data that are answered every year (except this one) as part of the budget process.
Additionally, the Republican members submitted new requests for Department of Treasury documents that: (1) explain and quantify various unimplemented proposals (including constructive proposals advanced by public employee unions) that would reduce health insurance premiums; and (2) the impact to taxpayers of capping state employee premium sharing increases at 3% and requiring taxpayers to pick up the difference.
Failing to admit to a lack of transparency guarantees the problem won’t be addressed and failing to provide the new requested information about controlling costs will make it more likely that the 22% increases in government health care costs will be repeated next year.
The full text of the letter is below (click here for a PDF with attachments):
October 21, 2022
Dear Treasurer Muoio,
As you know, on March 14 the nonpartisan Office of Legislative Services (OLS) submitted a 9-page request for information (containing several requests for data and 27 individual questions, attached hereto for your reference) with respect to State-run health benefits for public employees and retirees and the Treasury Department has still not provided a substantive response. Surely you must be aware that the department replied to a June 8 plea from OLS for a response by indicating substantive responses were still being prepared, and in response to another July 19 request replied that responses were still not being provided. So, we were perplexed to hear that just yesterday you doubled down to reporters on prior baffling claims that you have been transparent and didn’t withhold information during the budget process (and afterwards). Again, we ask that you immediately make available the substantive response to the March 14 OLS questions and request for data or finally just admit that you have indeed been withholding information and been unresponsive.
Additionally, yesterday we formally submitted an Open Public Records Act request (W192270 ) that seeks information and estimates pertaining to certain health benefit savings ideas that could help improve premium rate increases. As you know, the Department’s access to claims information and the work product of its health care consultant, AON, makes it uniquely capable of producing the requested information. The request was for the following:
- Documents prepared since January 1, 2020 explaining SHBP and SEHBP premium savings ideas or options that have not been implemented to date, including and any work product regarding same prepared by AON or departmental estimates of premium savings concerning same. This request includes, but is not limited to, the list of options provided to any Plan Design Committees in anticipation of their August 11 meetings.
- Documents, including any work product of AON, assessing or estimating the financial impacts of proposed resolutions submitted by union representatives of the SHBP Plan
Design Committee and State Health Benefits Review Commission in advance of
September 14, 2022 meetings thereof;
- Documents, including any work product of AON, assessing or estimating premium saving
attributable to plan design changes supported by the SHBP Plan Design Committee or
State Health Benefits Review Commission at September 14, 2022 meetings; and
- Documents, including the work product of AON, assessing and estimating which
employees are impacted by, and the cost or financial impact of, capping increases in state employee premium sharing at 3% — whether as reflected in a “Memorandum of Agreement” by and between the State and certain public employee unions on or about September 14, or any other agreement.
Per this letter, we are requesting the above information be provided pursuant to our common law right of access — in addition to our rights under the Open Public Record Act — as we have a need for such information in our respective capacities as members of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. If the information will not be provided to us under our common law right of access, we request a list of denied documents and a reason for each denial.
We look forward to quickly receiving this information considering your statements yesterday to reporters that you have been fully transparent and have provided similar information with others, though certainly not with us — and not, to our knowledge, with OLS or other legislators on either side of the aisle.
Steven V. Oroho
Declan J. O’Scanlon, Jr.
Michael L. Testa, Jr.