BATH TOWNSHIP — The Bath Township Board of Trustees are planning to seek bids for health insurance for township employees after deciding to withdraw its contractual commitment with the Ohio Public Entity Consortium (OPEC) Healthcare Cooperative (HC).
During the June 7 township meeting, Township Trustee Steven Ross said the trustees would be looking at other healthcare plans, considering the financial status of OPEC-HC. Township Fiscal Officer Elaine Brown reported that she had completed an employee census for Burnham and Flower Insurance Group so that they could begin shopping the insurance marketplace for the township.
Ross, along with Susan Martin, executive assistant at Greene County Combined Health District, attended OPEC-HC’s Board of Directors membership meeting on May 24 in Grove City. At the meeting, members discussed the fact that filed claims with OPEC-HC in 2016 were higher than projected. As a result, OPEC-HC is now facing a cash deficit of $14 million.
“There was some fiscal mismanagement, and the deficit got out of hand,” Ross said during the May 31 township meeting. “The consensus I got from the membership meeting was that the township should withdraw.”
Ross further explained that the deficit recovery rate built into the consortium’s Jan. 1, 2016 renewal plan was 25 percent. He noted that the plan should have reflected a 48 percent increase to cover a $7 million deficit at the end of 2015.
According to Ross, Bath Township’s contract with OPEC-HC will expire at the end of the year. If the township withdraws from the medical insurance consortium at the end of its current contractual commitment, the trustees must notify the Board of Directors of OPEC-HC about their intent to withdraw from the consortium by July 1. However, Ross said the decision to leave OPEC-HC would come with a cost.
“Members are charged under the withdrawal condition. We may have to pony up $4,000 for each of the 13 township employees covered under the healthcare plan,” said Ross. “It could end up costing us $52,000 to get out of this.”
Ross said other municipalities and entities are following suit. Susan Martin, who attended the May 31 township meeting, said the Greene County Combined Health District would withdraw its membership from the consortium by July 1. She noted that 70 employees at the health district are covered under the OPEC-HC plan.
According to Stephanie Hayden, assistant prosecuting attorney for Greene County, who also attended the May 31 township meeting, the township never funded the reserve. Therefore, it should not have to pay towards any part of the deficit. Hayden also recommended that the township request a dollar amount for withdrawing from the consortium when it submits the letter of intent.
In February, the City of Steubenville filed a lawsuit in Jefferson County Common Pleas Court against the Jefferson Health Plan, OPEC-HC, Ohio Insurance Services Agency, and Frank Harman, a benefit consultant at the Ohio Insurance Services Agency who exclusively marketed the Ohio Public Entity. The lawsuit cited cost increases and the inability to obtain claim reports from Jefferson Health Plan.
In May, Steubenville City Council unanimously approved a settlement in the lawsuit filed against the Jefferson Health Plan. However, the lawsuit against OPEC-HC, Ohio Insurance Services Agency, and Frank Gorman remains open.
Ross said only 19 members of the consortium attended the May 24 meeting, but the OPEC-HC members are planning to hold another meeting with more members of the consortium. However, a date for the meeting has not yet been announced.
“We did not have enough votes to pass an amendment. We do not know how many members make up the consortium because Frank Gorman has not supplied a membership list,” Ross said.
The township trustees also have the option, until September, to resend the township’s withdrawal from OPEC-HC.
“If enough members left, the consortium’s financial problems would be solved,” said Ross.
Chip seal pavement treatment update
In other business, Bath Township Road Supervisor Vern Heizer reported to township trustees that there has not been a resolution to the ongoing issues with the chip seal pavement treatment that was applied last year to a number of roads in Country Acres subdivision. Township Trustee Tom Pitstick stated that he plans to inspect the roads with Heizer next week.
Heizer also reported that a crew from the Greene County Engineer Office has been cleaning out the culvert pipe along Ravenwood Road, near Colonel Glenn Highway. According to Heizer, the township has dealt with flooding issues in this area for several years.
He is anticipating that once the cleanup is completed, the flooding issues should be resolved.
The Bath Township Board of Trustees will meet again in regular session at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 21, 1006 Yellow Springs-Fairfield Road in Fairborn.
Linda Collin is a freelance writer for Greene County News.