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CalPERS Charging Central Valley Workers Bay Area Prices For Health Care

SACRAMENTO (CBS) -- The Bay Area is typically thought of as nine counties. CalPERS, which handles benefits for state employees, sees it much bigger, including the Sierra Foothills and even areas north of Sacramento.

That designation is costing tens of thousands of state employees much more in health care.

The CalPERS building in Sacramento has many things, beautiful architecture and a riverfront location. But one might wonder if the agency that manages the State public employees' pension and health benefits has in its possession, a map of Northern California.

San Joaquin, Amador, Nevada, Sutter, Yuba and Yolo Counties are all designated by CalPERS to be in its Bay Area region.

The Bay Area comprises Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo Santa Clara, Solano and Sonoma counties, according to the Association of Bay Area Governments.

That means police officers, firefighters, city and county workers, any public employee living in those non-Bay Area counties, more than 28,000 people, are paying Bay Area prices for health care services.

How much more? One firefighter in Woodland in Yolo County said he pays $200 more each month than a co-worker who lives a few miles away in Sacramento.

"We want to draw their attention to this and hopefully they'll fix it," said Yolo County Supervisor Matt Rexroad.

The supervisor said the fix will save thousands of public employees hundreds of dollars each month.

"They should see their rates adjusted more to reflect the reality that they're part of the Sacramento region and not San Francisco and Oakland," Rexroad said.

In a written statement, CalPERS said, "Since 2005, CALPERS has grouped counties into regions because health care costs vary among counties. Counties with similar health care costs are grouped into regions, taking into account historic cost variation, enrollment, coverage areas and geography."

After that response, the agency said it is strongly considering changing its policy. A hearing on moving the counties is set for April 15th.

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