By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO The Legislature abruptly backed off a self-insured health plan on Thursday, citing credibility and contractual concerns with the plan’s administrator, EBS-RMSCO.
“Unfortunately, what’s come to light makes this very difficult to move forward,” Legislature Chairman Jonathan Rouis said at Thursday’s full meeting of the Legislature.
On Veterans Day, County Manager David Fanslau was surprised to receive a proposed “joinder agreement” that referenced a separate contract EBS-RMSCO had already signed with GHI.
The contract allowed EBS-RMSCO’s clients to utilize GHI’s network of doctors and specialists under specific terms some of which were in conflict with the contract the county had just agreed to with EBS-RMSCO.
The GHI contract had been formalized last April, but county officials didn’t get to see it until this past Wednesday the day before the Legislature planned to seal the deal.
County Attorney Sam Yasgur and staff quickly reviewed the documents and discovered that agreeing to them would create exposures and liabilities the county had negotiated out of its own agreement with EBS-RMSCO.
County Manager David Fanslau said EBS-RMSCO’s embarrassed president apologized for the contradicting documents, but legislators ultimately agreed with Fanslau and Yasgur that the county could not proceed in good faith.
“Unfortunately it’s an oversight the county just can’t overlook,” said Fanslau after the meeting. “There is no way Sullivan County could sign this joinder agreement the way it was written.”
The county is now returning to NYSHIP (New York State Health Insurance Program), whose rates are projected to rise by five percent next year.
As a result, legislators will have to figure out how to make up the $616,000 they would otherwise have saved through EBS-RMSCO in 2012.
That may be part of a daylong Management and Budget Committee meeting that will supplant all other regularly scheduled committee meetings on Thursday, December 1, starting at 9:15 a.m. in the Government Center in Monticello.
Other committees that normally would have met that day will meet the following Thursday, December 8, starting at 9:15 a.m.
Budget hearings set
While the tentative 2012 budget is still undergoing revisions, the Legislature has set the usual two public hearings on it.
The first will be on Thursday, December 8 at 11:30 a.m. in the Government Center, while the second will be on Tuesday, Dec. 13 at 5:15 p.m. in the same location.
Salaries up, fees are not
A variety of solid waste fees were approved 5-4 on Thursday. Though the fees (including the $120-per-residential property one) aren’t changing, legislators Ron Hiatt, Frank Armstrong, Leni Binder and Alan Sorensen voted against the measure, without public explanation.
Meanwhile, legislators unanimously set a public hearing on giving themselves a $1,000 raise.
If approved, legislators’ salaries will rise to $22,600, while the chairman’s will hit $31,600.
Several legislators have previously declined such raises and will likely continue to do so, but anyone who would like to comment on the proposal is welcome to do so on December 15 at 1:50 p.m. at the Government Center.