Fiscal court changes health insurance carrier

Posted March 26, 2013 at 6:34 pm

County employees will continue to have the option of having health insurance, but at a higher weekly rate and deductible amount. Clinton Fiscal Court, at its regular meeting last Thursday, took the action to switch insurance carriers and save enough money to offer the coverage.

The insurance issue was among several items of business on the agenda, which saw all magistrates present, but Judge/Executive Lyle Huff was absent due to a death in his family. Magistrate Mickey Riddle chaired the one and a-half-hour session in Huff’s absence.

The court also discussed at length the financial situation with the Clinton County Jail and a separate article on the jail issues can be found beginning on page 1.

Prior to discussion on insurance, Cody Craig informed the court that the spraying of roadsides in the county to help control weeds and brush would begin next month.

The court also approved the monthly treasurer’s report and a list of fund transfers and was presented the jail budget work sheet for the 2013-14 fiscal year, which will later be incorporated into the county budget.

County Treasurer Dallas Sidwell also announced that the estate of Muhlenberg County resident Bland C. Harbison had left a small bequest to be distributed to all 120 county animal shelters. The total amount statewide was $170,000 or $1,400 per county, to be used solely toward animal shelter/control programs in each county.

The court also voted to pay claims and bills, including a bill for new compressors that were needed at the Clinton County Community Center.

Grady Wilson, the county’s insurance representative, then readdressed the issue of employee health insurance. The matter was discussed last month when the current carrier, Bluegrass Family Medical, informed the court that employee insurance, primarily due to a few large claims, would be going up by some 49 percent over last year.

Wilson said he had checked with some other companies about providing employee health coverage and a couple of companies, including Humana and United Health, had declined to make a proposal. However, Anthem insurance did present some quotes, which Wilson said would be cheaper than the current proposed rates. He also noted that Bluegrass Family had also agreed to reduce their price, but added that Anthem still had the lower cost to the county overall.

Wilson said the state plan was also an option for employees, but added insurance through the plan would be about as high as that provided by the county. “Anthem does have the overall lowest rates,” he said.

During the discussion, Magistrate Ricky Craig made a suggestion, to save the county enough money to continue to offer coverage, to raise the weekly amount per employee share from $20 per week, or $80 per month, to $40 per week.

Magistrate Terry Buster, however, disagreed with that high figure, saying, “we can’t put all the penalty on the employees,” and suggested a lower rate of $30 per week instead.

Following some additional discussion, Buster made a motion to accept an Anthem plan that calls for a $5,000 employee deductible, or total out-of-pocket per year amount and to withhold $30 per week, or $120 per month from employee pay to help fund the coverage.

The motion passed on a split 4-2 vote, with magistrates Buster, Riddle, Phillip Parrigin and Hershell Key voting yes and magistrates Craig and Patty Guinn voting no.

It was estimated following the meeting that the plan approved by the court would cost the county an estimated additional $22,500 per year. However, that is much lower than the cost would have been under the current carrier’s original proposal and higher rate increase discussed in February.

The court also approved the annual County Road Aid Contract and Resolution with the Department of Transportation and voted to direct County Attorney Michael Rains to proceed with deeding a few feet of property at the Seventy-Six voting house to an adjacent property owner so they (property owner) can proceed with a property sale.

Another minor controversy then arose when Riddle informed the court of the recommended appointment of Tommy Guffey to the District Extension Board.

Magistrate Craig objected, saying he believed Guffey had been appointed recently to another board and felt like different people should be appointed to serve on boards. He then made a motion to appoint Jim Delk instead, but the motion died for lack of a second.

There was then some question as to whether or not a vote was even necessary, since the judge/executive apparently has the authority to make board appointments. However, in all cases previously, the court has voted on the recommended appointment.

Magistrate Buster then moved to accept the judge’s recommendation and appoint Guffey. However, that motion also failed when no second was made.

County Attorney Rains will apparently check into the matter to make sure, but said he believed the judge could make board appointments and present the names to the court.

After proclaiming April as Red Bud Month in Clinton County, PRIDE Coordinator Tuesday Davis informed the court that funds had been made available for tire amnesty days in the county this year, with the dates being April 25, 26 and 27. More details on the tire amnesty program will be published as information becomes available.

Emergency Services Director Lonnie Scott then addressed the court about a recent insurance settlement for a wrecked ambulance and requested the money be used to make necessary repairs. On a motion by Magistrate Craig, they voted unanimously to declare an emergency and allow Scott to accept the low quote on having the ambulance repaired.

Following a very brief five-minute closed session on personnel, in which no action was taken, a few magistrates announced their intentions on how they were going to use their approximate $30,000 from the county road aid fund.

Magistrate Craig said in lieu of using the funding for blacktopping, he was going to put his share toward the purchase of county road department equipment. Magistrate Buster also voiced the same opinion.

Magistrate Guinn, however, had a dissenting opinion on the use of her district’s share, saying she was going to use the funds for her constituents and have road repairs made.

Road Supervisor Jim Pennycuff then thanked magistrates Craig and Buster on behalf of the road department, saying that most of the current equipment is old and some new equipment is badly needed. He said new equipment hadn’t been purchased for the department since around the year 2000.

The next regular meeting of Clinton Fiscal Court is scheduled for Thursday, April 18 at 5 p.m. at the courthouse and is open to the general public.