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Rising employee health insurance costs prompts Augusta Commission to consider self-insurance

Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012 5:18 PM
Last updated Monday, Sept. 24, 2012 2:16 AM
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In an effort to contain employee health insurance costs, which run about $20 million a year, Augusta is looking to assume more risk and become self-insured.

Lisa Kelley of Wells Fargo Insurance Services is scheduled to present options at an Augusta Commission work session Monday, City Administrator Fred Russell said. Kelley told the commission in June that the city appeared ready to become self-insured and that she would return after seeking proposals from health insurance providers.

“All my numbers that are coming up so far are that you guys can move to a self-funded program in January,” she said.

Self-insurance would mean the city would create a large pool of money to handle health care costs, typically using a third-party administrator, rather than pay an insurer to collect premiums and pay the bills. The risk is that the pool might not be large enough to cover all claims.

Kelley said the on-site health clinic the commission approved after her last visit would be “a huge negotiating tool” with “a much higher return” should the city go self-insured.

In another matter, Com­mis­sioner Bill Lockett is calling for Augusta to end its relationship with Mobility Tran­sit at Monday’s administrative services committee meeting.

The commission voted last year to outsource management of the city bus service to Mobility, but threatened to sever ties in May, alleging the firm was late paying vendors and did not follow proper procedures for reporting accidents and testing drivers for drugs and alcohol. Mobility, headed by Florida taxicab mogul Cullen Meathe, denied most of the allegations.

“This thing is getting progressively worse,” Lockett said. “They haven’t made any progress.”

Lockett also has an agenda item Monday seeking to warn the mayor and commission against bypassing proper channels and negotiating contracts on the city’s behalf.

“We have highly paid professionals that have that responsibility,” Lockett said, but he declined to elaborate on what contracts commissioners were negotiating.

Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle said he was unaware of Lockett’s concerns.

“Instead of attacking his colleagues, he should talk to his colleagues,” Guilfoyle said.

Also Monday, the finance committee will look at operating agreements governing the Augusta Convention Center, which is nearing completion. The commission recently approved similar agreements related to the center’s parking deck after about 10 months of discussion.

IF YOU GO

10:30 a.m.: Health insurance work session

12 p.m.: Legal meeting

12:45 p.m.: Public safety committee

12:50 p.m.: Public services committee

12:55 p.m.: Finance committee

1 p.m.: Engineering services committee

1:05 p.m.: Administrative services committee

NOTE: Start times are approximate. All meetings are in the commission chamber on the eighth floor of the Municipal Building

Comments (17) Add comment
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Karen Slater-McDaniel
3099
Points
Karen Slater-McDaniel 09/23/12 - 05:42 pm
4
5
Tired of this unprofessionalism ...

I DO NOT want Fred Russell nor the County Commissioners deciding on my health insurance any longer!!! Sorry but I can already see how this will turn out. Every year our costs rise, ER co-pay rises, etc but the level of coverage gets worse. AND to add to it we have the most God awful dental coverage known to man that doesn't cover CRAP!!! Can we please outsource the Administrator & County Commissioners jobs like they did payroll? I'm sick of them all.

Little Lamb
45382
Points
Little Lamb 09/23/12 - 08:06 pm
3
4
Swap

Outsourcing might be a good idea, KSM. But I have a different proposal, modest though it may be:

Let us have a swap! The ten Augusta commissioners plus Deke (the meek) Copenhaver and Fred (What, me worry?) Russell will become anonymous posters on the Chronicle web site. And Riverman, Willow Bailey, Cobalt George, Roadkill, Angie H, dichotomy, Open Curtain, and Little Lamb will become Augusta commissioners for the next ten years. It's a fair swap, and it's a noble experiment in populism.

Let's try it.

Oh, yes, Rebellious can become city administrator.

jackrussell
219
Points
jackrussell 09/23/12 - 08:50 pm
5
0
No way!

I DO NOT TRUST anyone involved in Richmond County government with that kind of money or health insurance management. Heck, they can't even manage themselves.

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 09/23/12 - 09:01 pm
4
0
Just one

Hornets nest after another.

YES something needs to be done
But what needs to be done needs to be based on tried and true methods successfully used by other city governments. A lot of FREE research can be done at NO cost to the Taxpayers.

Whatever the solution I would like to see ETHICS & FINES clearly addressed and aboved, to avoid any GOOD OLD BOY background salesmanship and administration wheeling and dealing.

BTW: Thank you Little Lamb for the Nod...
Like many I sometimes think I could do a better job, but I quickly realize I am only good for spotting problems in the bud (not Beer) but not good at negotiating solutions. I am too closed minded and no diplomat.

Interested in hearing Wayne Guilfoyle
He runs a profitable Business and understands the costs of Health Ins.. So I would be interested in his comments on the matter. Lately he has been squeezing a Taxpayer Penny so hard it has been making Lincoln cry along with some others.

fatboyhog
1925
Points
fatboyhog 09/23/12 - 09:00 pm
7
0
The commissioners tried that

The commissioners tried that before. It failed. Miserably. They screw up anything that they touch.

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 09/23/12 - 09:47 pm
1
0
fatboyhog's got it covered.

fatboyhog's got it covered.

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 09/23/12 - 09:50 pm
2
0
LOL, thank you for the

LOL, thank you for the nomination, LL.

Little Lamb
45382
Points
Little Lamb 09/23/12 - 10:07 pm
0
1
No Negotiations

Open Curtain wrote:

Thank you, Little Lamb, for the nod. I . . . realize I am only good for spotting problems in the bud . . . but not good at negotiating solutions. I am too closed minded and no diplomat.

Augusta doesn't need no more stinkin’ diplomats. We are going to be dictators, not negotiators. We need to bring back principles, not PC politics.

wayne2410
1239
Points
wayne2410 09/23/12 - 10:39 pm
1
3
I thought Obamacare was going
Unpublished

I thought Obamacare was going to solve all our health care issues. Is there anything he and the libs have not lied about?

scgator
1042
Points
scgator 09/24/12 - 12:29 am
2
0
The way self insured works is

The way self insured works is that "the owner" purchases coverage with an average deductible of $50,000.00. Anything under that comes out of money in escrow from premiums collected; anything over that is covered by an umbrella policy that is "dirt cheap" to the owner. Where the hitch comes in, is that the owner can at anytime change, enhance, or decrease benefits. I was part of a plan like that for three years, and one time the owner held a meeting to tell us that he had to raise the rates 34%...........because of new insurance legislation. I asked this question.........."is the law making you raise our rates, or is the law allowing you to raise our rates?" His answer, "that's enough questions, it's time to go back to work." Self Insured can be a very good thing for all involved, if it is managed right; and the only issue with that is the owner telling the management team what they can and cannot do.........i.e. Emperor Russell.

Little Lamb
45382
Points
Little Lamb 09/24/12 - 07:46 am
2
0
Emperor

Thanks for the story, scgator. I, too, would be very leery of putting such important powers as health care decisions under the thumb of Fred (What, me worry?) Russell. He has a long track record of forgetfulness, sloppiness, shrugging his responsibilities, and deceitfulness.

jpbrig
170
Points
jpbrig 09/24/12 - 08:31 am
0
0
Why did you not run this time.

Little Lamb you could have ran this time. Why wait? You seem to know all the answers. We need you now not in ten years.

Karen Slater-McDaniel
3099
Points
Karen Slater-McDaniel 09/24/12 - 09:25 am
0
1
If the County Commissioners

If the County Commissioners want to work so hard on something then let's try the sorry excuse for a damn retirement plan the County employees have!!!

Oh, no, not all of the County employees have the same retirement, some have the old City retirement, some have the old County retirement (which were pretty good plans ... and I am not blaming those employees who have those plans) ... but the majority have the pension plan from HELL.

Who in their right mind sets up a government entity retirement plan where you cannot retire until you are 65 years of age? So, for example if you start working at RCSO at age 21 as a LEO, you have to work 44 years before you get your full retirement. How many of you want 64 3/4 year old deputies working the road patrol?

Most government entities have a retirement plan where you can retire in 20-25 years.

The way the current county retirement is set up, you work until your 65 years old and eat CAT FOOD for the remainder of your life.

Karen Slater-McDaniel
3099
Points
Karen Slater-McDaniel 09/24/12 - 09:34 am
0
1
Really?

"the on-site health clinic the commission approved"

We do not want to go to some County run CLINIC for our medical care and preventative care!

If we are paying out-of-pocket, each paycheck, then we should be able to make the choice of WHO (which physician) we want to treat ourselves and our family members who are covered.

This has gotten past the point of ridiculous ... and it has been proven time and again that this sitting commission, administrator and mayor have no idea how to best utilize the money collected from the taxpayers of Richmond County.

justthefacts
21409
Points
justthefacts 09/24/12 - 11:39 am
1
0
KSD

I will be the first to admit I am not an authority on pensions. I know mine is not paid in full until 65. But, can the gov't afford a plan that pays full pension to folks for 40 yrs? With people living to 75-80 yrs old, a LEO retiring at 40 would really be hard on the plan.

Little Lamb
45382
Points
Little Lamb 09/24/12 - 11:47 am
1
0
Correct

You are right, JTF. Too-generous city pension plans have bankrupted many a town. The same thing could happen with too-generous medical insurance plans.

Karen Slater-McDaniel
3099
Points
Karen Slater-McDaniel 09/24/12 - 02:30 pm
0
1
What is the State of Georgia

What is the State of Georgia pension retirement age? What is the Federal government persions retirement age? It is NOT a designated age it is after 20-25 years of service.

When it does not personally affect your life or future livelihood you are less apt to understand exactly how bad the retirement for RC is under their current pension plan.

I worked for a company for 5 1/2 years who had a profit sharing plan that was totally funded by the employer. After 5 1/2 years I had more money in my profit sharing than my spouse who has been with RCSO since 1998 currently has in his pension plan which is funded by the county and the employee.

Continuing to work as a LEO after 25 years of service should be an OPTION not a requirement; just like it is for other government entities.

And I am not talking GENEROUS, I am talking comparible to the norm ... which RC's plan is not.

Riverman1
82447
Points
Riverman1 09/24/12 - 06:15 pm
0
0
"My stomach hurts." "Are you

"My stomach hurts."

"Are you calling to report a water outage or a pothole? Press A or B."

"No, my I think it's my appendix."

"Who is your Commissioner?"

"Joe Bowles...why?"

"We only have so much money allocated to Bowles' district's residents?"

"You mean my medical care is now dependent on who my Commissioner is?"

"Well, not exactly. But who is your Commissioner again?"

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