By Hailey Persinger
Killeen Daily Herald
On the heels of city employees' demand for less expensive health care, Killeen City Council members have formed a committee to explore future insurance options.
The committee, which will also review proposals for this year's insurance when the bidding process ends Sept. 18, is made up of seven city employees, three council members, City Manager Connie Green and Executive Director of Human Resources Debbie Maynor.
City Council members decided to accept insurance bids when its current provider, Scott & White Health Plan, raised city employees' insurance premiums an average of 27 percent. The current contract, which council members voted to extend while it collected proposals from other companies, ends Nov. 1.
Mayor Timothy Hancock said a similar situation occurred last year, and after this year's scramble to find a less expensive provider, he felt the formation of a committee would remedy the recurring confusion.
"This was going to be an ongoing problem," he said. "What better thing to do than get a committee with employees on it so that they can help make the decisions, make recommendations about their own insurance?"
Though the committee's top priority will be to determine the best course of action for this year's insurance proposals, it will also look into proposals during next year's process and beyond.
"We need to sit down and determine who we're going to solicit for next year and make sure our No. 1 thing is that we get those bids out … so that we don't get caught short," said Larry Cole, a councilman and committee member.
But the committee's purpose will be more far-reaching than negotiations with insurance companies. Green said the group will meet monthly to determine the best way to lower insurance costs and send employees home with a larger check.
Committee members will have the opportunity to present their ideas in committee, which will then be presented to the entire council for consideration.
Though the committee will not meet until after Sept. 18, Councilman Juan Rivera said he is ready for its members to look at all proposals thoroughly and recommend the best possible health care plan for city employees as soon as possible.
"We need to organize ourselves in order to do whatever research we have to do and so we don't go through the same issue again," he said. "I don't think this is a committee where we can take our time."
Contact Hailey Persinger at email@example.com or (254) 501-7568.