Health insurance was the topic of concern at Monday’s Albert Lea School Board meeting.
Council members have agreed to use Blue Cross Blue Shield as the district’s health insurance provider.
According to Aaron Casper, benefits consultant for National Insurance Services, there were other proposals from Medica Direct, the Public Employees Insurance Program and United Healthcare.
“All of these proposals were competitive,” Casper said.
But ultimately, the public employee insurance program was phased out because its rates exceeded current Blue Cross Blue Shield rates and had a limited network and referral system. United Healthcare and Medica Direct were not selected due to the downsizing of Blue Cross Blue Shield’s network in the region.
“The school district started with its clinic through Health Partners Well @ Work Clinic in 2014,” Casper said. “We are currently in our eighth year of operating our own on-site clinic here in Brookside.”
The district now shares its clinical space with Freeborn County, a partnership that only recently began.
“At Brookside Clinic, it became very clear that we had a partnership opportunity,” he said. “Long story short, we had these conversations in 2021, it came to the board in 2021 for approval for Freeborn County to join Brookside Clinic here at Albert Lea Schools, and it’s been a good transition .”
Brookside is in his fourth month with Freeborn County.
Agreeing to use Blue Cross Blue Shield also means MercyOne Clinic will not be networked.
“When we were getting and getting the information from Mayo Clinic and MercyOne and the health partners, after that the dialogue was really focused on…a look at the numbers and the care options available, and really being [request for proposal] specific,” he said. “My friends, when we ran the tender, MercyOne didn’t really follow the tender. They submitted a different proposal.
Casper said trying to match the proposition was like comparing an apple and an orange, but said he understood why MercyOne did that.
“There has been a substantial cash outlay for a lower rate that we are certainly well aware of, but we, too, as a school district, have made investments in our own clinic over the past eight years,” he said. -he declares. “The request and the tender was, ‘What could you do for our clinic with our new partner, Freeborn County.'”
According to Casper, there were two discussions and a unanimous consensus in the room to basically accept the RFP because they were close to a couple who were in the running (including the Mayo Clinic), so they basically put side the RFP and maintained the status. quo, a plan that has two advantages.
“First, the school district – because of the partnership with Freeborn County – was going to save, upfront, between $125,000 and $135,000 just because of that based on usage within our clinic” , did he declare. “So this was automatically going to be a win for the school district.”
Another reason was recognition that they had just partnered with Freeborn County, which brings employees to the clinic. Casper said if they were to disband the clinic, it was likely that Freeborn County would not go down the route of a MercyOne integration.
“Looking at the price and the savings that were on the table and the partnership that was there, that’s where we, as a committee, came up with the unanimous recommendation to essentially stay with the status quo,” he said. declared.
He said they would continue to evaluate what the proposed partnership with MercyOne might look like in the future.
Mike Funk, superintendent of schools in the Albert Lea area, agreed with Casper’s take.
“At this point when we put the tender together and as Aaron had mentioned tonight, we had just entered into a partnership with Freeborn County,” Funk said. “That’s why we structured the tender and the parameters we set.”
He also had concerns and questions about MercyOne.
“I met with a number of Mercy businesses and folks last September as they were talking about opening their commercial clinic, and I was concerned that there were a lot of unanswered questions at that time, and we are quite comfortable in our environment. ”
By doing this, he wants the clinic to resolve any issues it faces and said he is open to future dialogue.
Casper said there were about 1,300 members. By comparison, MercyOne has 1,800.
Ultimately, the board approved health insurance premiums for the 2022-2023 school year, along with the results of a dental insurance request for proposal.
Prior to Casper’s presentation, a number of citizens spoke out in favor of having MercyOne networked with district insurance.
In other actions, the board:
- Approved 2022-23 health insurance premiums and dental insurance RFP results.
- Agreed to hire the Minnesota School Board Association in its search for a new superintendent, as Funk will leave to assume the position of superintendent in public schools in the Stillwater area. The approximate time frame for a new hire is six weeks, but board members were comfortable hiring a temp if none of the candidates selected by the search firm met their standards. There will be a meeting on Tuesday in the boardroom, where members will listen to MSBA give a virtual presentation.
- Military families recognized as April is Military Child Appreciation Month, as well as Albert Lea wrestlers Mike Olson, Cameron Davis and Logan Davis, none of whom were physically present.
- They have agreed to the termination and non-renewal of a trainee teacher’s teaching contract, and they have agreed to a resolution that will place another staff member on unrequested leave as that position will be abolished. This employee will have 14 days to contest the leave without request.
- Accepted Compass Group USA Inc. (Chartwells) proposal for Food Management tender. According to Jennifer Walsh, director of finance and operations for the district, the district received responses from Chartwells, Taher and SFE.
- Heard of a proposed framework agreement between the district and the Albert Lea Schools Technical Employees Association, in which the district would recognize the Albert Lea Schools Technical Employees Association as the exclusive representative of technical employees employed in the district.
- Saw a presentation for a trip project for high school students to the Dominican Republic next summer at a cost of $3,030 per student.
- Saw a proposal for a memorandum of understanding that would “facilitate the alternative system of professional remuneration for teachers”, which is not part of the framework contract.
In its March-April financial report, the district spent $2.189 million, more than half ($1.439 million) in the general fund, while in March the council accepted $24,597 in donations, of which $16,504 for the Tiger Alumni Student Assistance Fund.
In routine business, board members agreed to appoint Krystal Paulson, Amanda Montes, Hailey Barnes, Linda Larson, Tianna Abrego, Susan Hanson, Molly Miler, Molly Appicelli and Nicole Luna. They also agreed time off for Jane Beighley, Susan Gudal, Dixcie Lindberg, Tara Paulson, Dara Gjersvik, Amy White, Sherri Lauen, Rachael Korman and Jolene Svensen. Members accepted the resignations/retirements of Zachary Riopelle, Sandi Sorenson, Rachel Bera, James VanRyswyk, Brittany Voigt, Kelly Weitzel, Tiffany Mueller, Romy Yost, Kyle Milliron, Laura Sorenson, Emily Ayers, Shelly DeVries, Mary Gulbrandson, Karol Hansen and Mary Jo Volkman.
They have agreed to hire 31 people for various coaching positions in the spring.
The board has a special meeting to discuss the search for the next superintendent at 5 p.m. Tuesday in Brookside.