Hoping for stability, county accepts more expensive health insurance proposal

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Nearly $89,000 difference in proposals

By Stephen Lega

A few years ago, the Marion County Fiscal Court received a health insurance renewal proposal that was more than 40 percent higher than the previous year. To keep its costs from going up that much, the county adopted a new kind of health insurance.

With that in mind, a majority of the Marion County Fiscal Court voted to approve a  renewal proposal from its current health insurance provider, Humana, rather than a less expensive plan from United Healthcare.

Despite a difference of nearly $89,000 between the plans, Magistrates Larry Caldwell, John Arthur Elder III and Steve Masterson voted to stick with Humana. Magistrates Roger "Cotton" Smothers and Jackie Wicker voted against the Humana proposal.

The Humana proposal was for $684,205.09 (which is nearly $14,000 more than the county's current rate with Humana). United Healthcare's proposal would have been $595,351.68.

Elder acknowledged that the Humana and United Healthcare plans provide comparable coverage, but his concern was more about what kind of renewal rate United might propose next year. He also said that the county has had trouble getting competing bids in recent years.

"The plan we have now works well. Our employees are familiar with it," Elder said. "I guess the question is... do you think it's worth saving money now and taking a chance later?"

Masterson said he liked the idea of saving, but he also wanted stability.

Smothers said the county has been with Humana for four years. He also said that renewal rates are largely based on claims, and he would personally prefer to save the taxpayers the difference.

"That's a lot of money to save, and I think the plans are absolutely the same," he said.

Humana representative Marsha Evans said at the meeting that 50 percent of the county's renewal is based on claims.

Masterson said he sympathized with Smothers.

"I understand your concern. I'm all for saving money, if you're actually saving money," Masterson said.

Elder added that the county would save money up front by going with United Healthcare. However, he was concerned that United was offering a low price now to get in the door, and the company could come back next year with a big rate hike with its renewal.

While he did not vote on which plan was approved, Marion County Judge/Executive John G. Mattingly said the county has stabilized its health care costs the last few years.

"If we were to get a 25 or 44 percent increase like we got two years ago before we converted to this format, the savings we make this year would not make up for that," Mattingly said.

Smothers, however, remained unconvinced.

"You'd have to say something to convince me that the Humana plan is better than the United," he said.

In the same motion, the county also vote to stick with Macky Hagan as their agent of record.

County approves $60,000 transfer to detention center

The fiscal court approved a $60,000 transfer from the general fund to the Marion County Detention Center last week.

The court approved the transfer as a contingency for the detention center. In a written report, Marion County Jailer Barry Brady reported that the detention center was awaiting payments of $173,690.58 from the state and $9,584.19 from a federal contract.

The county also approved a $21,000 transfer for litter abatement. Community service workers from the detention center provide trash pick-up for the county.

Barry wrote that the detention center has instituted a new program and will be applying for grant funding.

He also noted that the Local Facilities Division of the Kentucky Department of Corrections is working on a new jail inspection to rank jails based on performance and programs offered. The detention center also plans to bid on a Federal Bureau of Prisons contract that will be open in 2012.

More work, expense for E911 mapping

The Lincoln Trail Area Development District started doing field work Aug. 8 to map the structures throughout Marion County as part of the preliminary work in order to acquire enhanced 911.

Some of the problems they have encountered include 820 structures have no visible address, 64 structures no longer exist, even and odd numbered addresses on the same side of the street, residents transferring their old address to a new location when they moved, addressing for mobile home parks and private roads, according to an email from Mike Robinson of LTADD to Judge Mattingly.

Mattingly said the county has approximately 11,200 structures.

Because of the remaining issues, LTADD and Mapsync are requesting extensions of their contracts, which would mean an additional $27,000 in funding.

The expenses incurred to this point were covered by a grant the county received from the Kentucky Commercial Mobile Radio Services and Emergency Telecommunications Board.

Prior to receiving that grant, the county and the City of Lebanon had approved a memorandum of agreement to split the costs to LTADD and Mapsync's work to verify GIS coordinates and addresses within the county. The court voted unanimously to pay its half of the contract, based on that memorandum.

Mattingly added that the mapping likely will not be completed until next year, which could also push back implementation of E911 until 2013.

Siren repairs to cost $4,400

Marion County Emergency Management Director Hayden Johnson reported at the Nov. 4 fiscal court meeting that only two of the county's seven sirens were functioning correctly.

Last week, Johnson reported that in two cases, the sirens were not working because electricity had been cut off to the sirens at Calvary and Raywick. After the electricity was turned on in those locations, four of the seven sirens were working correctly.

RCS Communications, the siren manufacturer, inspected the sirens and recommended replacing six speaker drivers and a controller board, which would cost $4,400 combined. The county is also required to provide a bucket truck and operator for the repairs, and RCS reported Larry Wheatley has quoted $1,350 for two days work.

The fiscal court approved the funding to replace the equipment as part of its bills last week.