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BCSD wastes millions of dollars by overspending on health care. Rather than use Cigna, United Healthcare, or Blue Cross to access a provider network, the district uses a company called POMCO. POMCO’s discounts with provider networks are much less favorable than Cigna, for example.
For every medical claim paid on behalf of a BCSD health plan participant, taxpayers pay nearly 15% more than if the district contracted with Cigna for the same service, with the same doctor, at the same facility. How could this happen?
For starters, the district did not hire a consultant until two years ago. Engaging an expert to help negotiate the health care market is a standard practice in managing a plan of this size.
Only now is the BOE doing the obvious and considering a better carrier. Unfortunately, the damage is done. Applying the Cigna discounts, for example, to actual BCSD health costs suggests staggering waste: nearly $8 million between 2011-2016. Close to $20 million over the last twenty-five years.
The current budget crisis is due to bad management by BCSD administrators, the BTA, and the BOE. This is a prime example. Fallout includes constant budget crises, depletion of reserves, rating agency downgrades, program cuts, and many lives and careers derailed through needless layoffs.
Anecdotally I am told that BCSD didn’t feel compelled to shop for better health care pricing since nobody called it out. I have also observed that the BOE does not have appropriate understanding of the health care program, nor a sense of urgency in right-sizing it.
Among BOE candidates, Beth Staropoli is uniquely conflicted on health care. A lifetime recipient of BCSD benefits, she can’t be expected to be objective in managing the health care program. It would mean cutting her own benefits as part of salvaging the district’s finances, a tricky conflict at best. Our community deserves leadership that delivers extremely high quality education within currently adequate district revenues.
I am voting for Brooks, Harney, and Solomon as I believe they are the right team to get BCSD moving forward again.