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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Lingle urges legislative action on EUTF finances

Advertiser Staff

Gov. Linda Lingle is urging legislators to find a quick fix for a daunting financial gap facing the agency that handles health plans for 161,000 active state and county workers, dependents and retirees.

Lingle yesterday sent a letter to the heads of labor committees in the House and Senate asking them to take up money-saving measures in the remaining three weeks of the legislative session.

The series of actions seek to lower benefits and make other money-saving changes so that the fund doesn't run out of cash sometime this year.

"I cannot stress enough to you that you have the authority and the responsibility to stop the collapse of the EUTF system," wrote Lingle in the letter.

"I urge you to act promptly and decisively."

The EUTF oversees the medical benefits for state and county workers with the exception of teachers and has been facing a troubling drain on its reserves as healthcare usage and costs rise. The EUTF has been paying out more money than it is taking in and at the end of December had burned through $77.4 million in its main reserve fund during an 18-month period.

It forecast to deplete another reserve fund sometime this year unless steps are taken to increasing state funding, cut benefits or raise premiums charged to members who have preferred provider plans.