HBA-NRS H.B. 2211 77(R) BILL ANALYSIS Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 2211 By: Farabee Pensions & Investments 3/18/2001 Introduced BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE Currently, community mental health and mental retardation centers (centers) may provide health insurance to their employees. While these centers are not defined as state agencies and their employees are not defined as state employees, the centers are governmental entities and serve as agents of the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation. Many employees of centers were state employees before the merger of state-operated community services and various centers. When the merger occurred, many employees lost access to state benefits. With the rising cost of health care and the difficulty that some centers continue to experience regarding paying for coverage because of health insurance rate increases and lack of funds, centers are finding it difficult to recruit and maintain quality employees. House Bill 2211 allows centers to participate in the uniform group insurance program for state employees under the Employees Retirement System of Texas. RULEMAKING AUTHORITY It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that rulemaking authority is expressly delegated to the Employees Retirement System of Texas in SECTION 3.03 of the bill. ANALYSIS House Bill 2211 amends the Texas Employees Uniform Group Insurance Benefits Act (Act) to authorize a community center to participate in the uniform group insurance program (program) administered by the board of trustees of the Employees Retirement System of Texas under the Act. The bill provides that participation is limited to active employees of the community center and their eligible dependents. The bill provides that full-time active employees of a participating community center are automatically covered by the basic coverage of the program unless the employee waives coverage or is expelled from the program and that each part-time active employee of a participating community center is eligible, and required to be notified of his or her eligibility, to participate in the program on application unless the employee is expelled (Sec. 3E, Art. 3.50-2). The bill requires that an employee of a community center is to be treated as an employee of Texas for purposes of the program (Sec. 3, Art. 3.50-2). An active employee of a community center is not eligible to receive a state contribution for premiums. The board of trustees of the participating community center is responsible for such contributions that the state would make if the community center employees were state employees. The bill requires the board of trustees to contribute for each employee covered by the uniform group insurance program an amount equal to 100 percent of the cost for the employee only of the basic coverage authorized by the trustee for active employees. The bill requires each covered employee to pay a portion of the cost of group coverages selected by the employee that exceeds the amount of Texas Department of Insurance contributions. A community center that elects to participate in the program must notify the trustee not later than December 31, 2001, of the community center's participation (Sec. 3E, Art. 3.50-2). H.B. 2211 amends the Health and Safety Code to prohibit the board of trustees of a community center participating in the program from setting benefits in compliance with a market analysis or internal salary study (Sec. 534.011). During the 2001-2002 state fiscal year, the bill requires the Employees Retirement System of Texas (ERS) to develop a plan for the extension of benefits under the program to persons eligible for such benefits. The bill requires that coverage under the program begins with the 2002-2003 state fiscal year, but not later than September 1, 2002 (SECTION 3.01). The bill requires the board of trustees of a community center participating in the program to transfer from any employee benefits program established by the community center all records relating to group insurance and related coverage of active community center employees under that program to ERS (SECTION 3.02). The bill requires ERS to adopt rules as necessary to implement and provide for the transition to the use of the program not later than December 31, 2001 (SECTION 3.03). EFFECTIVE DATE September 1, 2001. Provisions relating to personnel and benefits take effect September 1, 2001.