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Battle Creek city commissioners approve health care exemption

Battle Creek is opting out of a new state law that requires local government employees pay more for their health insurance. And it’s not alone. The Michigan Municipal League says about a third of the cities it surveyed plan to exempt themselves from the law requiring an 80/20 split on health insurance costs.   

The law allows a temporary opt out. And there are many reasons.  

Battle Creek stood to lose $1.3 million in federal transportation grant money if the city commission didn’t approve the exemption last night.  

“What I am optimistic about is city employees will begin to increase their contribution towards health insurance …and then we’ll have some real dialogue about changing out health insurance plan itself," says Russ Claggert, Battle Creek’s Employee Relations director, "We’ve already seen this past summer city employee contributions double to health insurance…so…there have been some significant changes…they’re not up to the level of the 80/20."  

Claggert says if Battle Creek’s unions don’t agree to the 80/20 split, the city can seek another exemption next year. 

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.