I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Insurance Benefits Special Meeting, 9-21-2009

I am posting these minutes to expedite information dissemination. Much more complete and detailed minutes will be posted in 4-6 weeks on the school district’s website. In the mean time, these minutes are what I feel were the big “takeaways”, a macro look at my impression of the meeting. These are condensed, abbreviated, shortened, and to the point.

Meeting convened at 5:30 PM

All Board Members and Superintendent Malcolm Thomas present.

No Pledge of Allegiance, No opening prayer

Purpose of this special meeting was to resolve disputed insurance issues pursuant to Master Contract Provisions. Escambia Education Association
(EEA) Article XIV.1.I Union of Escambia Education Staff Professionals-Article VI.1.I.

Background: The issue of benefits has been bargainable in our district, separately from salary negotiations. Last year, the negotiations for benefits became protracted, and the union did not come to the table in a timely fashion to resolve premium, plan changes, and other serious issues resulting in huge losses on a monthly basis ($175,000.00 monthly) to the district’s health care reserve account. In an effort to alleviate this condition and to ensure that it would not happen again going forward, the district negotiated language with the union that would ensure that negotiations on health plan changes would be handled in a fair, timely fashion. The article of the master contract with this new language is here. This year, pursuant to this new contract language, we utilized an insurance benefits committee to hammer out necessary plan changes and other refinements to the district’s health insurance plan to offset rising costs. The superintendent forwarded the benefit committee’s recommendation to the union for a ratification vote which failed. According to the new language negotiated to alleviate this sort of stalemate, the board was given the opportunity to consider the recommendation of the benefits committee.

I. Call to Order/Adoption of Agenda -approved 5-0
II. Presentations and Discussion
A. Presentation of Proposals
1. Superintendent’s plan, presented via PowerPoint by Kevin Windham, dir. Of Risk Management with assistance from Chuck Tobin, from Arthur Gallagher Insurance
2. Association and Union presentation, presented by Bill Vincent, Service Unit Director

B. Rebuttal
1. Superintendent-by Kevin Windham and Malcolm Thomas
2. Association and Union -by Bill Vincent

C. Board Questions and Comments

1. Bill Slayton wondered aloud why so few employees participated in the ratification vote.
2. I asked if the lowering of the office co-pay portion of the choice plan by $5.00 would actually cost only $155,000.00. Answer provided by Chuck Tobin was “yes”
3. I asked if the Health Screenings would result in an initial spike in plan costs and the answer was yes for the first year, with years two and three resulting in lowered costs

D. Public Forum

17 Speakers addressed the board, unanimously opposing the plan changes that would result in higher costs to those who utilize the benefits.

E. Closing Remarks
1. Superintendent Thomas spoke in favor of approving the plan as presented by the benefits committee
2. Mr. Vincent spoke in favor of making no further plan changes, and taking a wait and see approach to ascertain whether or not costs would go up as projected.

III. Board Action

The Board discussed the options, weighed the choices put forth, and considered the speakers’ positions. I made a motion that the benefit committee’s recommendation be accepted, with the caveat that doctor’s office co-pays be lowered for employees on the choice plan from $30 down to $20 (at an estimated additional cost to the benefits reserve fund of approximately $310,000.00). Motion was seconded by Patty Hightower, discussion ensued for clarification on precisely what the motion I made was. When everyone was comfortable, the motion carried unanimously 5-0.

Meeting adjourned at 8:01

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