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Illinois Group Insurance Premiums Could Double Retroactively Pending Outcome of Labor Dispute

University of Illinois administrators are warning employees that the state could retroactively increase their health insurance premiums. The university system recently held informational meetings at its three campuses in Chicago, Champaign-Urbana and Springfield.

A premium increase likely depends on the outcome of negotiations between Governor Bruce Rauner's administration and AFSCME, Illinois' largest public employee union. Contract negotiations between Rauner and AFSCME have stalled. The state labor relations board is expected to decided whether talks are an impasse later this year.

Katie Ross, senior director of Human Resources Administration for the U of I, said the union negotiations for all state employees on the terms for the group health insurance plan, union and non-union workers.

"We have not ever seen a suggestion of retroactive premium increases being collected from our pay before," she said. "This could create financial hardships."

Rauner has described the health plan for public workers as "platinum" and has proposed changes to save the state money.?

The state, at a minimum, is nearly a year and half behind in paying state employee insurance claims. Employees of the university system have said the state's delay in paying group health insurance claims has left them shelling out for doctors' visits and getting calls from collection agencies.

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner

Sociology and Anthropology Assistant Professor Hinda Seif works at the University of Illinois in Springfield. She said it's sad that some employees can't get the medical or dental care they need because the state is not paying health care providers.

"I'm probably not the only person here who didn't go to the doctor because of the liability or expense," Seif said.

University of Illinois officials say they've asked Rauner's administration to reconsider taking money retroactively.

Any decision by the state labor relations board is likely to be appealed in court.

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