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 email@example.com or (254) 501-7568. Follow him on Twitter at ChrismKDH.