Oregon’s Legislators and Public Employee Health Insurance

Eighty of Oregon’s ninety legislators are receiving public employee health insurance benefits. Legislators are eligible to receive those benefits only because they passed a law that makes them public employees for health insurance benefit purposes.   In passing that law, the legislators created a conflict of interest that makes it impossible for them to comply with their fiduciary duty as public trustees when determining what health insurance benefits public employees will receive and how those benefits will be paid for.  In 2011, State employees, including the participating legislators, are expected to pay $1,200,000 towards their health insurance costs, while the people of Oregon will be required to pay over $746,700,000.

There is no justification for this conflict of interest.  The legislators were elected to represent all Oregonians.  Every law the legislature passes begins with the words “Be It Enacted By The People Of Oregon“.   Unfortunately, the legislators have used their power to make laws for their personal benefit.  Legislators  and their family members are financially affected by every health  insurancebenefit decision they make.  This is fundamentally unfair to Oregon non-public employees who make up over ninety percent of the State’s population.  It is impossible for them to receive independent representation regarding what they will pay for public employee health insurance because eighty-nine percent of the legislators who make that decision are receiving those health insurance benefits.

Oregon’s legislators were never intended to be public employees.  They were intended to be citizen legislators who represented the interest of all the people.  If they are to be treated as public employees that change should be made by the people they represent, not by the legislators.

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About Dan Re

I am an attorney who has lived in Bend and practiced law since 1981. In educating myself about the Oregon Public Employees Retirement System (PERS), I was shocked at how the PERS laws were changed by the legislature, once legislators were allowed to join PERS in 1971, 26 years after PERS was first created. Those changes personally benefitted the legislators who made them at the direct financial expense of the people they were elected to represent. That is wrong and I intend to change it. In 2009, I started a non-profit 501(c)(4) corporation, In RE The People, Inc., for the purpose of informing concerned citizens of what happened regarding PERS and other issues of social and civic importance. I then created this blog to further that objective.
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