Litchfield News

Town and school officials debate insurance issue (05-07-19)

Litchfield municipal officials again on Monday encouraged school officials to delay a decision to move out of the town’s self-funded insurance pool for at least 12 months.
The delay would allow the Board of Education and the town to investigate employee health insurance options that would be acceptable to both parties, First Selectman Leo Paul Jr. and others told the board’s finance subcommittee.
The school board desires to leave the 29-year-old self-funded pool administered by Anthem and enter into a fully-funded arrangement with ConnectiCare that would save the board a projected $141,225 in 2019-20 and set the board up for a potential collaboration on health insurance with Region 6 in 2020-21.
For those reasons, school board Chairman Gayle Carr said during Monday’s meeting, the board is reluctant to stay with the self-funded pool. Remaining in the pool, Carr said, would jeopardize the board’s ability to collaborate with Region 6 and possibly achieve greater savings.
Going with ConnectiCare would leave the board with an insurance tab of $3,062,662 in 2019-20, according to figures presented to the finance subcommittee. The tab for staying in the self-funded pool would be $3,203,887, or $141,225 higher.
The $141,225 in savings, Carr said, would allow the board to devote more resources to students. Returning to the self-funded pool, she argued, would force the board to cut services for students.
While the school board would realize savings, the town would see its insurance costs increase from $817,368 to $957,250, or $139,882, according to the figures that were presented. The town’s cost to provide health insurance for municipal employees would go up because only 34 people would be left in the self-funded pool. Municipal employees would face higher individual costs as a result, according to Paul.
If the school board were to leave the pool, the net savings for the town would be $1,343, which Paul, Selectman Jeffrey Zullo and Board of Finance Chairman William Burgess said would not be worth the change.
The school board, they said, should be thinking of the town as a whole as it deliberates the issue.
“We’re all on the same team and we need to stay together,” Paul said. “I’m willing to talk, my board s willing to talk and the Board of Finance is willing to talk. All we’re saying is, let’s commit to a 12-month process to figure this out.”
The school board, Paul added, shouldn’t turn its back on a 29-year agreement that has worked and walk away without trying to work with town officials on a resolution.
“We’d like to see you remain in the plan for another year so we could do a reasonable review of the options in the interest of the taxpayers,” Zullo said.
Lynn Rice Scozzafava, president of the teachers’ union, and Roe Cook, president of the union representing non-certified employees, told the finance subcommittee that their bargaining units favor an insurance plan that wouldn’t increase costs for their members.