Michigan House Bill 4140 has been introduced by Representative Melton and referred to the Committee on Government Operations. Here is a brief synopsis on what it will do, should it become law:

• Consolidation of health benefits for public employees

• Create a board to administer a uniform public employee health benefits program

• Create a Michigan prescription drug plan committee

• Provide for duties for certain state and local government departments, agencies, boards and departments

• To require public employers and retirement boards that provide health benefits to public employees and retirees to participate in the Michigan health benefits program

• To provide for exceptions to participate in the program

• To provide for optional participation in the program by private employers

• To allocate costs to participating public and private employers

• To require public employers to submit certain information concerning health benefit plans

• To make an appropriation, and

• To create a restricted fund.

What this really does is take away health care bargaining for labor groups by only allowing them to choose from a select number of plans, from which the employee and/or employer can choose one. The only negotiable item is how much premium sharing there will be.

The creation of a Michigan Health Benefits Board will be created as an autonomous entity and shall exercise its powers independently of the director of the department of technology, management, and budget, under which it will become part of. The board will consist of 13 members, all of whom will be appointed ay the Governor's discretion. What comes along with that is the power for the Governor to remove any member at any time.

The prescription drug plan committee will dictate which prescription drugs are to be covered within therapeutic classes for particular diseases and conditions, including generic alternatives.

If a public employer or the public employer and the public employee opt out of the Michigan health benefits program, the cost of the program is still to be paid by the public employee. In addition, the program restricts the public employer, through collective bargaining, to choose which of the program's health benefit plans the public employer will offer; the share of the premium cost that will be allocated to the public employer and public employee; and which of the employer's employees will be eligible to receive health benefits under the program.

House Bill 4140 is a prescription for disaster and potential political corruption.

The 51-page bill is available to view online at www.legislature.mi.gov as well as through your state representative's office. It is vitally important that every member oppose this bill. Please contact Representative Tim Melton as well as your own state representative, and express your concern about this attack on our collective bargaining rights.