Some NNY hospitals face big deficits

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MASSENA — A review of the St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES Health Insurance Consortium recommended that the districts currently enrolled in the consortium remain in the plan.

“Consortium members are small districts with small plan enrollments. When small districts join together in a consortium, the impact of significant claims is softened because it is spread across a larger member pool,” said the report prepared by education consultants Alan Pole and Deb Ayers from Castallo & Silky, LLC.

Massena Central School Superintendent Patrick Brady updated his board of education on the recommendations during its latest meeting. He noted that Ogdensburg, Canton, Edwards-Knox, Madrid-Waddington and Heuvelton were no longer members of the plan, leaving 14 members.

“Their recommendation is to maintain the current consortium,” Mr. Brady said.

They also recommended implementing communication and reporting materials to illustrate important concepts that are more user friendly.

“The materials provided to the Board of Directors and the employee/retiree members should ‘tell the story’ in a way that is easily understood by the people who are not health insurance professionals,” Mr. Pole and Ms. Ayers said in their report.

Another recommendation was to seek appropriate opportunities to engage and involve unions.

“Union representatives currently attend meetings of the Board of Directors but do not have a formal role in the decision-making process. The consortium should examine appropriate options for union involvement,” Mr. Pole and Ms. Ayers suggested.

In addition, they suggested creating professional development opportunities for the plan’s Board of Directors, in part because new board members might not have experience in the health insurance field.

“That’s a complex issue,” Mr. Brady said.

Board members should also consider a request for proposal for consulting services for the consortium. Locey & Cahill has provided service to the plan for more than 20 years.

“It’s been a while since there has been a request for proposals,” Mr. Brady said.

He said the report also suggested examining the plan’s rate structures and benefits “to see if there are some benefits that could be added.”

“The member districts should determine the best way to meet its employees’ needs in a fiscally responsible way,” Mr. Pole and Ms. Ayers said.

Mr. Brady said a subcommittee will be set up to start looking at the recommendations.

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