After a contentious debate, members of the Killeen Independent School District Board of Trustees voted to stick with Blue Cross Blue Shield as the district’s health care provider for the 2013-2014 school year, going against the administration’s recommendation.

The 4-2 vote by school board members occurred at a Thursday morning workshop, and shortly after a vote to rescind the board’s previous approval of a provider in late August.

The board initially approved Blue Cross Blue Shield after the administration asked employees to vote which provider they would prefer. However, Superintendent Robert Muller said information from the provider to employees about the cost of the plan was incorrect.

A new employee vote was held Sept. 16. This time, the front-runner was TRS Active Care, a health care program run for school district employees by the Teacher Retirement System of Texas. The program is separate from the state’s health care system for retired educators, and was created by the 77th Texas Legislature.

“The administration recommends TRS active care based on the number of votes,” Muller said.

According to information from the district, about 38 percent of the nearly 2,900 KISD employee who participated voted for TRS Active Care, with the remaining votes split between Blue Cross Blue Shield, Scott & White or simply choosing not to vote at all.

Despite Muller’s recommendation, board members Shelley Wells, Susan Jones, JoAnn Purser and Ken Ray voted against choosing TRS Active Care, opting to again choose Blue Cross Blue Shield.

The TRS system allows participants to select from plans from a number of providers, including Blue Cross Blue Shield and Scott & White. The plans from those providers offered under the “umbrella” of the TRS plan are nearly identical to those of the individual providers, but with one difference: Many of them are actually cheaper under TRS.

“I think (by not selecting TRS) we are leaving a lot of money on the table,” said Board Vice President Terry Delano, who along with member Corbett Lawler, voted for the TRS plan.

For example, the monthly cost for one plan under Blue Cross Blue Shield for a KISD employee and his or her family is about $1,690, although the district would pay a portion of that. Under the Blue Cross Blue Shield plan offered by TRS Active care, the monthly cost for an employee and family would drop to $1,323 a month.

Delano said he was against voting for a plan that would cost employees and their families more.

“We are taking that money out of the pockets of the families in our district,” he said. “Are we willing to put that cost on those families?”

Purser argued that the cost of TRS Active Care could go up unexpectedly due to the provisions of the federal Affordable Care Act, something that Blue Cross Blue Shield had already taken into account on cost quotes to Killeen ISD.

“There’s just too much uncertainty,” Purser said. “We just don’t know what’s going to come down (from the Affordable Care Act).”

Jones said if the district selected TRS Active Care as a provider, it would be locked into using the system, and unable to choose a new provider the following year.

“I don’t like locking myself into anything when there are so many unknowns,” Jones said.

Board member Minvera Trujillo was absent from the meeting.

With Tuesday’s vote to select Blue Cross Blue Shield as the district health care provider for the 2013-2014 school year, open enrollment for employees is set to begin in October.

Contact Chris McGuinness at chrism@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7568. Follow him on Twitter at ChrismKDH.

(6) comments

cz14
cz14

WELL YOU GOT EXACTLY THE PEOPLE ON THE SCHOOL BOARD THAT YOU VOTED FOR---DIDN'T BOTHER YOU ONE BIT THAT ONE OF THEM WAS REJECTED AND VOTED OFF THE KILLEEN CITY COUNCIL. ----YOU WOULD THINK THAT FORMER TEACHERS NOW ON THE BOARD WOULD VOTE FOR WHAT YOU VOTED FOR.----ALL OF THEM COULD HAVE SAT BACK AND SAID WE VOTED FOR WHAT MOST OF YOU WANTED. NO NO NO NO THEY KNOW WHAT'S BEST FOR YOU. ----YOU NEED TO READ SEVERAL TIMES A PREVIOUS COMMENT ABOUT THE NEED FOR A TEXAS RANGER INVESTIGATION.

Catnip

The board cares nothing for the staff of KISD! Remember at election time!

Kayakfisherman

The excuses I have heard to justify the four KISD board members to vote for BC/BS and not for the teacher desired and voted for TRS plan is weak. To blame Obamacare and state a fear it may cause a price increase with the TRS insurance plan in the future to approve a higher insurance plan now, is an irrational argument. It appears there may be more here to the story. If it is true, that a local insurance agency does benefit with a million dollar commission by the KISD board members choosing BC/BS, then there needs to be a Texas Ranger investigation in regards to public corruption. KISD teachers and the Killeen community should have a full understanding of what occurred.

DEACON2

I just want to know why we voted if the board already had their minds made up? They clearly are not concerned about the welfare of the employees. I make a decent salary as well, but I cannot afford the rates we are having to pay. An extra $200. to $300. a month may not be much to some of our board member, but it it a big burden to some of the employees. The board members that voted against what the employees selected should be ashamed of themselves.

kisd28

Even if we have the insurance can anyone afford to use it with the high end deductibles. Realistically I make a decent salary but when 1/3 of my take home pay is my monthly part that I must pay to have my spouse covered. Then even with that the deductibles make it to where we don't seek the needed treatments. As of now my spouse needs cataract surgery but will not have it because of the deductible that must be meet. and I can speak from last year a surgery that I had left us way behind in bills. I met the deductible then there was another 800.00 out of pocket expenses that I had to cover.... UMMMM something is wrong... Yes Mr. Obama I have health insurance as you mandated but cant afford to use it. and shame on KISD for not pulling together plans that replicate those of the TEXAS A&M and other university health care offerings... We all are under TRS..

HHTeacher

It figures that the board would go against what the teachers wanted. Typical KISD!!

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