Pitch to decrease well being care prices for varsity board members wants extra work [The New Hampshire Union Leader, Manchester] – InsuranceNewsNet

May 15—A RECOMMENDATION THAT THE Manchester school district return to an 80-20 split on the cost of health insurance for school board members — with the district picking up 80% of costs for elected officials — has been sent back committee for more discussion.

Members of the Policy Committee — Leslie Want, Nicole Leapley, Peter Perich, Sean Parr and Jason Bonilla — voted unanimously last month to rescind a motion made in 2019 to approve a 5% annual increase in the cost of health insurance for school members beginning in 2019.

Policy Committee members voted to recommend going back to the previous arrangement, where board members paid 20% of the cost. In January 2022the split was 60% for board members and 40% for the district.

Ward 11’s Leapley first raised the issue in July 2021 in a letter to board members, detailing how before she was elected she had coverage through the Affordable Care Act Marketplace.

Once elected, she was no longer eligible for that plan because she receives health care coverage through the Manchester School District as an official with employee status.

“The premiums charged by the district were substantially more and it also meant we lost our associated tax-credit of about $10,000 a year,” Leapley wrote.

“In other words, I discovered that to serve on the school board, I had to pay for the privilege. I spoke with a number of people about this situation, including my health insurance broker, the director of HR, and the mayor. explained that this situation not only cost me a lot of money, it was actually costing the city of Manchester even more. It appeared at the time that nothing could be done.”

According to Leapley, at the time she took office — January 2020 — the district health insurance cost $751.17 per month. She said she currently pays $969.79 ($908.97 for medical and $60.82 for dental) — a 20% increase in the cost of medical insurance over 18 months.

“This amount, $908.97 per month, now approaches what we pay for our mortgage each month,” Leapley wrote. “When I compare the rate my family is asked to contribute with other employees of the district, I see that for the same plan, the superintendent would pay $649.26 (plus $52.13 for dental). In other words, I pay 40% more for my premium than the superintendent would pay for the same plan — despite the fact that the superintendent makes nearly 100 times my salary.”

Leapley argues you should not have to be “rich to serve as an official in a democracy.”

Before the full board took up the recommendation last week, two former school board members raised concerns with the proposed change during public comment.

Lisa Freeman said she felt it would be a conflict of interest in violation of the city charter for school board members to vote on the issue.

“As a former school board member, I was involved in the policy that brought it to the 60-40,” Freeman said. “I am absolutely bamboozled. Confused. Gobsmacked that this board would think in this environment — the fact that people are having such a difficult time paying for oil in their tank to heat their houses, paying for their prescriptions and yes, paying for their own insurance — that this board would entertain the idea of ​​enriching themselves before the people they serve.

“Now you are going to go back on a policy that was decided by a prior board to make it less expensive to take benefits from the taxpayers,” he said Rich Girard. “I understand this struggle… it was a factor in my deciding to leave the board, which I’m sure pleases some of you. But I don’t view public service as something that I’m entitled to at the taxpayers’ expense to lighten my financial burden.”

Leapley disagreed with Freeman, saying the proposal wouldn’t affect current board members, only those elected in future years — starting with the 2023 municipal election.

Leapley said access to the school district’s health insurance impacted her access to Affordable Care Act plans, costing her thousands of dollars each year.

Similar concerns could impact a person’s decision whether or not to run for office, she said.

“I want people to be able to serve in our government who aren’t wealthy,” Leapley said. “Who come from all different walks of life who are 20 years old, who are 60 years old, who are 80 years old. We all have human bodies, and all of our human bodies can get sick. I think this is a human issue and our representatives in a democracy are human and I think they deserve health care.”

School Board vice chair Jim O’Connell — who chaired the meeting while Mayor Joyce Craig was isolating at home with COVID-19 — said the crux of the problem is that board members are considered employees of the district.

“It doesn’t make sense,” O’Connell said. “My understanding is that we were made employees because it was the only way to allow school board members to avail themselves of the district health plans. The real stupidity here is that it makes no sense that we’re employees. I didn’t run to be one Manchester. Why in the heck are we employees in the first place? Do away with that and the problem goes away.”

School District Chief Financial Officer Karen DeFrancis said three school board members currently receive health insurance through the district and four receive dental benefits. She said the financial impact to the district of switching to the 80-20 split would be approximately $20,000 — if no additional members opt to take the insurance once the lower cost takes effect.

The proposal was sent back to the Policy Committee to allow School District Attorney Kathryn Cox-Pelletier to review minutes of previous meetings when the change was original made.

Two city department heads to depart

Two city department heads have given aldermen notice of their plans to retire next month.

City Planner Leon Lafreniere and Human Resources Director Kathleen Ferguson plan to retire June 30according to paperwork submitted to city officials.

“This has been a difficult decision for me as I have truly appreciated the opportunity to work with so many talented elected officials and city employees over the years, who have all contributed in making Manchester the great place that it is,” Lafreniere wrote in an email to aldermen last week.

“I will leave city service taking comfort in the knowledge that the current staff of the Planning & Community Development Department contains some of the most talented and competent individuals I have ever worked with. Their commitment to the citizens of the city of Manchester is truly inspirational.”

Ferguson wrote she “enjoyed working with the city’s talented staff, and the hardworking and dedicated HR team.” She has offered to assist in the transition process to a new director.

Paul Feely is the City Hall reporter for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. Reach him at [email protected].


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