LAFAYETTE — The Lafayette Parish School Board Executive Committee decided Friday to recommend that the full board renew its health plan administrator contract with Blue Cross Blue Shield Louisiana and hire its own consultants to review future proposals from third-party administrators.
The recommendation may find a majority vote after the full board decided at its meeting Sept. 5 to table a decision on selecting an administrator and find its own consultant. The executive committee worried there would not be enough time to hire another consultant to provide an adequate review the seven submitted proposals.
“We just need to make a decision. We just want to get the square deal for the public,” said board President Shelton Cobb.
Cobb, Vice President Hunter Beasley and past-President Mark Allen Babineaux are on the executive committee. Board attorney James Simon and Superintendent Pat Cooper also attended the meeting.
The board will vote on the new recommendation at its Sept. 19 meeting.
The board was set to make a decision at its Sept. 5 meeting on a school system’s insurance advisory committee recommendation that the district continue its contract with Blue Cross Blue Shield based on the company’s discounted rates and the $3.5 million cost associated with switching administrators, committee members told the School Board Sept. 5.
“In the final end that $3.5 million would have to come out of our pockets in our self-funded insurance program,” Butch Mouton, a teacher on the advisory committee, said during the Sept. 5 meeting
At its Sept. 5 meeting, the board skirted a vote on Blue Cross with two substitute motions.
One substitute motion to accept the proposal of another company, Southern Benefit Services, failed in a 4-5 vote with board members Cobb, Beasley, Rae Trahan and Tehmi Chassion voting for Southern Benefits Services. Board members Babineaux, Greg Awbrey, Kermit Bouillion, Mark Cockerham and Tommy Angelle voted against the substitute motion.
After the failed substitute motion, the board did not vote on the original motion made by Angelle to accept Blue Cross Blue Shield.
Instead, another substitute motion was made to table the issue and for the board to conduct its own review of the seven submitted proposals.
The substitute motion to defer was approved 5-4 with affirmative votes from Beasley, Cockerham, Trahan, Cobb, Chassion. Board members Awbrey, Bouillion, Babineaux and Angelle voted against tabling the decision.
The insurance advisory committee includes current and former employees and some retirees appealed to the board Wednesday maintain its contract.
On Friday, before the executive committee’s decision to go with Blue Cross, Cooper questioned the board’s reasoning for questioning the initial recommendation.
“None of us are experts at insurance,” Cooper said. “We gave it to the committee. They are experts. They gave us a recommendation. I just have a problem messing with that.”
Cooper said a change could risk peace of mind for retirees and could potentially damage trust that he’s worked hard to build since starting the job earlier this year.
Beasley said his concern centered on the committee’s decision to approve Blue Cross based on projected savings from discount rates that consultants said could not be disclosed for confidentiality reasons.
He said Southern Benefit Services was the only company that disclosed its discount rate.
“One of the things that makes me so upset about being a board member is when I get information that I don’t feel is correct,” Beasley said. “Then, I have to vote on it. I have a problem with that.”
Later in the meeting, Cooper credited the executive committee for its decision.
“Y’all hire your own consultants and then, you have full control of it,” he said. “We don’t rush into it and we’ve done our due diligence.”
No premium increases are anticipated if Blue Cross remains the system’s health plan administrator, said Mona Bernard, the district’s insurance director.
At the Sept. 5 meeting, Bernard said a decision was needed in the next 30 to 45 days.