Process to restart to find administrator
LAFAYETTE — Facing a reprimand from the district attorney for possibly violating the state’s Open Meetings Law, the Lafayette Parish School Board rescinded an Oct. 2 vote Tuesday to give Key Benefits Administrator the contract to manage school system’s health insurance program.
The board also voted to start anew in the selection of an insurance administrator — a process that had been mired in controversy in recent months.
One issue was whether the School Board had met requirements under state law for giving the public adequate notice that the board planned to select a health plan administrator at its Oct. 2 meeting.
District Attorney Michael Harson told board members the agenda for the meeting did not make clear that an administrator would be selected at the meeting.
Harson, whose office is tasked with enforcing the Open Meetings Law, talked of possible penalties against board members or an injunction to block board action if the Oct. 2 vote was not rescinded.
“I just urge you to reconsider and do the right thing,” he said.
The second issue at play in Tuesday’s meeting was whether the School Board should go back to square one in selecting an administrator for the health insurance program.
The school system’s health insurance program covers more than 8,000 school system employees and retirees and their dependents.
The insurance program is self-funded, but the School Board contracts with a third-party to manage the program.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana has been the school system’s administrator for 17 years, and the board’s vote to give the contract to the lesser known Key Benefits Administrator has drawn criticism from a vocal group of school system employees and retirees.
A consultant hired by the School Board to evaluate insurance proposals contends Key Benefits offers some $8 million in savings, but that figure has come under question.
The School Board could have rescinded the Oct. 2 vote that gave the contract to Key Benefits, then attempt to vote again on the contract later this year after giving proper public notice.
The original vote giving the contract to Key Benefits was 5-4, and one of the board members in the majority, Kermit Bouillion, made clear Tuesday that he wanted to revisit the selection process.
“It’s not just the employees or retirees who are confused, I think it has spilled over into whole community of Lafayette,” Bouillion said.
“My vote tonight it to start from the very beginning, to start from scratch.”
The vote to rescind the Oct. 2 vote that gave Key Benefits the contract was 6-2.
Board members Bouillion, Mark Cockerham, Greg Awbrey, Mark Allen Babineaux, Shelton Cobb and Tommy Angelle voted to undo the Oct. 2 vote, and Rae Trahan and Tehmi Chassion voted to sustain it.
Board member Hunter Beasley was absent.
The board then voted to send out a new request for proposals to administer the insurance program and to extend the current contract with Blue Cross for another year while the selection process is pending.