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

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.

Health care costs on rise for Augusta
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

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Sun, 12/04/2016 - 20:05

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