majority of the Porter County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday approved
2-1 a recommendation by consultant Stephen Brady, of the Chesterton-based
Heritage Advisory Group, to move forward with a reference-based
reimbursement option for the County’s self-funded employee health insurance
Good, R-Center, was the lone vote against the measure saying he has doubts
that this is the solution to the County’s health insurance funding dilemma.
The County should
approach the situation “holistically,” he said, and this he feels is
“chipping around the edges.”
“I think it just
needs to be more,” Good said, although he commended Brady on his
presentation and research of different cost management insurance plans.
Evans, R-North, and Laura Shurr Blaney, D-South, however said this is “a
first step” toward bringing the insurance costs in line with what the County
can reasonably budget for.
“It’s a good place
to start, I think,” Blaney said.
The hope is to keep
costs under the $9 million the County Council has set aside for insurance
this year, which is a $3 million reduction from last year’s cost.
Brady said what is
causing insurance expenses to spike is a high number of catastrophic claims.
He advocated that moving ahead with a plan that would focus on improving
employees’ long term health to cut down on the frequency of catastrophic
“The money spent on
claims is a symptom, not the disease,” he said.
Evans said the
County wellness programs have never been utilized by more than 50 percent of
the employees, even with incentives. He said that he’d like for employees to
“get some skin in the game” in aiding the County’s efforts to control health
The plan the
Commissioners chose to pursue is organized by the Florida-based INETICO,
which looks for wellness participation of above 50 percent.
Brady said he feels
INETICO, “a well-known cost containment company,” will be a better fit for
the County over the ELAP method that was discussed by the County Council
last month. The annual service cost for INETICO is $64,800, Brady said in
his presentation, while ELAP’s would be $1.2 million.
Also with INETICO,
the County will be able to retain its current third party administrator
Stewart C. Miller and its servicing agent for more than 23 years, Anton
Insurance, according to Brady.
Prior to the
discussion with Brady, Evans read a statement addressing the tension
surrounding County officials in their efforts to reduce costs on the
County’s self-funded health plan.
“We must find a
balance between our responsibilities to taxpayers, and our commitment to our
hardworking and dedicated employees,” Evans said.
Evans said Brady
was asked by the Commissioners to make recommendations on plans that would
not reduce employee benefits or increase premiums, right after the County
Council, during last fall’s budget hearings, rejected a proposed high
deductible plan that would contain costs at about $8 million.
Even though the
Commissioners had proposed the high deductible plan, Evans said the
Commissioners “were not in favor” of it but it was the only option that met
the mandate of the Council to reduce costs sufficiently.
In other matters,
the Commissioners named Valparaiso resident Chris Campbell, senior
vice-president for Centier Bank, as the County’s appointment to the
Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority (RDA).
including Campbell applied for the seat.
previously as the County’s RDA appointment but resigned, having been elected
County Commissioner in November.
appointments, Sheriff Dave Reynolds was chosen by the Commissioners to be
part of County Government’s employee sick bank.
Also, the board
approved the last $150,000 installment of county economic development income
tax funds for its three-year grant (2013-2015) to EMPOWER Porter County, a
LLC member of the Porter County Community Foundation focused on preventing
and treating substance abuse.
Hitz, executive director for EMPOWER, said the grant will be utilized to
build youth organizations, continuing education to medical professionals and
consumers, and host community events to help parents understand development
also receives support from the City of Valparaiso, Portage Redevelopment
Commission, Porter Regional Hospital and NIPSCO.