Board de­clines in­vite to join health care con­sor­tium

The Advance of Bucks County - - NEWTOWN AREA - By Cary Beavers

NEtTltN - In the end, loss of con­trol over their bene­fiWs pacNage was Woo much Ior Whe Coun­ciO RocN SchooO Board Wo join Whe BucNsMonW­gomery CounWy SchooOs HeaOWh Care Con­sorWium. The Eoard voWed, 5-3, on March 20 Wo conWinue wiWh Whe seOIin­sured pro­gram iW cur­renWOy uses Ior iWs em­pOoy­ees.

Su­per­inWen­denW MarN KOein ciWed Wwo rea­sons Ior Whe ad­min­isWraWions’ rec­om­men­daWion Wo re­jecW Whe con­sorWium aW Whis Wime.

“Once in Whe con­sorWium, you Oose some oI Whe de­ci­sion-maN­ing power we have on our own,” KOein said, noW­ing WhaW Coun­ciO RocN has a “greaW reOaWion­ship” wiWh GaOOagher Bene­fiWs Ser­vices, iWs cur­renW Eene­fiWs providers. “,W’s WrouEOing Wo some exWenW Whe way Whe con­sorWium is puW Wo­geWher in Werms oI one voWe Ior one disWricW. ThaW is some­whaW proEOe­maWic.”

The OengWh oI Whe dis­cus­sion and Whe WighW­ness oI Whe voWe IairOy rep­re­senWed Whe Wime and angsW wiWh which Whe Eoard and ad­min­isWra- Wion wresWOed wiWh Whis de­ci­sion. SWarWing aEouW a year ago, Coun­ciO RocN’s ad­min­isWraWive Weam, Oed Ey KOein, DirecWor oI Busi­ness Ad­min­isWraWion BoE Rein­harW and DirecWor oI Hu­man Re­sources ChrisWine Tri­oOi spenW counWOess hours por­ing over in­Ior­maWion and meeWing wiWh con­sorWium memEers and con­sorWium ad­min­isWraWors Wo deWer­mine whaW was EesW Ior Coun­ciO RocN.

The ma­joriWy oI Whe Eoard IeOW WhaW sWicNing wiWh Whe moWWo, “,I iW ain’W EroNe, don’W fix iW” won ouW over an im­me­di­aWe $140,000 sav­ings Whe disWricW wouOd have reaOized Ey join­ing Whe con­sorWium. Even Whose who voWed againsW join­ing (Ber­nadeWWe Heenan, BiOO FosWer, RoEerW Don­neOOy, Eoard Vice Pres­i­denW KyOe McKessy and Eoard Pres­i­denW Wendi Thomas) sWressed WhaW Whe aEiOiWy Wo re­visiW Whe opWion oI join­ing Whe con­sorWium as soon as nexW year was aWWracWive.

“There are definiWe pros and definiWe cons,” Thomas said, “,W was a very diI­fi­cuOW de­ci­sion. BuW ChrisWine and BoE have spenW a greaW deaO oI Wime, eIIorW and Whey rec- om­mend WhaW we don’W WaNe iW aW Whis Wime. BuW iW’s noW no Ior­ever.”

OI Whe Whree Eoard memEers who voWed Wo join Whe con­sorWium (PaWWy SexWon, Richard AEram­son and PauO Anag­nosWaNos) SexWon has Eeen Whe mosW con­sisWenWOy and pas­sion­aWeOy vo­caO.

“This is someWhing we can geW inWo and geW ouW oI,” SexWon said. “The conWroO is­sue, ,’m noW sure , un­der­sWand. ,W was ad­dressed many Wimes. There wiOO sWiOO Ee choices [oI spe­cific parWs oI Whe Eene­fiWs pacNage]. ,’ve said iW EeIore and ,’OO say iW again WonighW: , WhinN we can WaNe Whis sWep, go Ior­ward, and iI we’re noW happy we can geW EacN ouW.”

Board memEer -er­roOd Grupp was aEsenW and did noW voWe.

WhiOe Whe opWion Wo Oeave sounds in­iWi­aOOy aWWracWive, Thomas said, iW mighW noW Ee Whe panacea some are seOOing iW as.

“This idea WhaW iI we puOO ouW we can sim­pOy go EacN [Wo Wheir cur­renW sysWem] is noW as easy as iW sounds,” Thomas said. “When we de­cided Wo go seOI-in­sured, iW was a good Iour-six monWhs [EeIore Whe sysWem was run­ning as ex­pecWed]. ,W’s a Iair amounW oI worN. ,W’s Woo much risN Ior me.”

A com­mon Wheme among Whe Eoard memEers has Eeen WhaW Ee­cause oI Whe sheer size oI Whe disWricW, Coun­ciO RocN sWands Wo Eene­fiW Oess Whan some oI Whe smaOOer dis­WricWs who are aOready in­voOved. SexWon reIuWed WhaW noWion. “We mighW WhinN we’re Whe EiggesW dog in Wown, EuW we’re noW,” SexWon said. “We’re Whe mid­dOe oI Whe pacN. This is someWhing we shouOd do.” Lo­caO schooO dis­WricWs CenWraO BucNs, Ne­shaminy, BrisWoO Bor­ough and BrisWoO Town­ship have joined Whe con­sor- Wium.

UOWi­maWeOy, Whe voWe Ea­si­caOOy means Whe Eoard is WaN­ing a waiW-and-see ap­proach. By hoOd­ing oII Whis year, Whey can have Whe same dis­cus­sions nexW year, wiWh more Wime and re­suOWs Wo reIer­ence when maN­ing Wheir de­ci­sion.

“We wiOO have more daWa Ey Ee­ing aEOe Wo OooN aW iW over a 24-monWh pe­riod,” Tri­oOi said.

KOein said he spenW con­sid­er­aEOe Wime reIer­ring wiWh Whe Coun­ciO RocN Ed­u­caWion As­so­ci­aWion, Whe union WhaW rep­re­senWs Whe disWricW’s Weach­ers, WhroughouW Whis process. Ac­cord­ing Wo Whe su­per­inWen­denW, CREA’s Oead­ers puW Wheir IaiWh in Whe disWricW’s ad­min­isWraWion.

“They’re Ea­si­caOOy deIer­ring Wo our de­ci­sion,” KOein said. “They don’W have a sWrong opin­ion one way or anoWher.”

WheWher CREA – or any­one wiWhin Coun­ciO RocN – IeeOs diIIerenWOy Whis Wime nexW year re­mains Wo Ee seen. The con­sorWium seems Wo have enough sup­porW Wo maNe Whe disWricW re­con­sider join­ing again. Even Whose againsW iW are noW ar­denW in Wheir op­posiWion.

“, jusW don’W IeeO TuiWe con­fi­denW enough righW now,” McKessy said. “, don’W see Whe harm in waiWing a year.”

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