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State worker benefit costs to increase

Delaware Public Media

State officials voted Friday to increase what public workers’ pay for their health benefits to fill a projected budget shortfall, but still need another $21 million from the General Assembly to fully fund the new plan.

The State Employee Benefits Committee is lowering the cost for generic prescription drugs, but hiking how much employees will have to pay for preferred and non-preferred drugs by between $3-$5.

They will also no longer cover erectile dysfunction drugs unless it’s medically necessary for other conditions, like heart disease and high blood pressure.

Co-pays for primary and specialist care will increase by $5. Costs for outpatient surgery, lab processing and advanced imaging will also be higher.

Any outside group participating in the state plan will also have to pay a 5 percent fee.

These changes will go into effect beginning July 1.

The committee was originally going to vote on similar increases that would have also included raising workers’ deductibles in March, but the state legislature wrote to Gov. Jack Markell urging him to reconsider.

Current pressures on the account due to increased hospitalizations and other sources drained the rainy day fund and these changes don't address refilling any reserve.

State budget director Ann Visalli says state lawmakers will create a new committee to assess any further changes that may need to be made to address future growth.

The Joint Finance Committee will begin finalizing next year’s budget Tuesday.

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