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Oceanside Unified Changes Health Care Program To Save Jobs

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Aired 7/26/10

The Oceanside Unified School District is saving $2 million next school year by re-tooling teacher health care benefits. The tactic may prompt other school districts to follow suit.

— The Oceanside Unified School District is saving $2 million next school year by re-tooling teacher health care benefits. The tactic may prompt other school districts to follow suit.

Oceanside Unified faces a $19 million state funding shortfall. Dozens of teaching jobs were still in jeopardy even after the district cut costs.

But a new health care program saved some jobs.

Previously, a Health Net program only allowed teachers to see Scripps medical professionals. However, district officials say that was too expensive.

Now Oceanside teachers can also see doctors under Aetna Health Insurance at a substantially lower cost. Teachers can still see Scripps doctors, but it will cost them thousands of dollars more out of their own pockets.

Giovanni Pacheco is an insurance consultant with the Oceanside Unified School District.

“Oceanside is the prominent example,” Pacheco said. “I think it's safe to say you'll see more and more of this continue to occur –- not just in San Diego County, but in California and maybe even beyond.”

Teachers have to make a decision by October. The Oceanside Federation of Teachers has already agreed to six furlough days next year.

Teachers union president Terry Hart says members recognize the district is in a tough financial position.

“Let's do what is fair and responsible and try to keep the cuts as far away from the teachers as possible,” Hart said.

But Hart says teachers treated by Scripps doctors for life-threatening illnesses like cancer are critical of the new plan. District officials say they will offer a “transition-to-care” program for those who want to make the switch.

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