BATH TOWNSHIP — The Bath Township Board of Trustees are continuing to seek proposals and information in an effort to curtail rising medical insurance costs for township employees and their families.
Township Trustee Steve Ross told residents on July 5 during the township meeting that he had obtained additional information about the Ohio Public Entity Consortium-Healthcare Cooperative (OPEC-HC) during its board meeting on June 26.
Ross said he attended the meeting to determine whether the township trustees should reconsider renewing the township’s contract with the healthcare consortium. The trustees previously notified OPEC-HC Board of Directors in late June and officially terminated the township’s current contractual commitment when it expires at the end of the year.
In May trustees were informed about the fiscal mis-management that had occurred within OPEC-HC which brought about a $14 million deficit.
At that time, Ross explained that the deficit recovery rate built into the consortium’s Jan.1, 2016 renewal plan was only 25 percent However, the plan should have reflected a 48 percent increase to cover a $7 million deficit at the end of 2015. He also said the township could be charged as much as $52,000 under the withdrawal condition.
According to Ross, the board of trustees has prepared a formal letter addressed to the Ohio Insurance Services, which contains a group healthcare proposal. That letter will be mailed out sometime this week.
“The Ohio Insurance Services (OIS) is the business. OPEC-HC is under OIS as a consortium of 157 members and originally contracted the Jefferson Health Plan as its healthcare administrator,” Ross explained.
According to Ross, OPEC-HC recently made some major changes, and Stark County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Stephan P. Babik is arranging a number of informative meetings for members of the consortium.
“OPEC is still very much alive and is the same program. However, it has a different administrator now,” said Ross. “OPEC has fired the Jefferson Health Plan and has hired Benovation out of Cincinnati.”
The township trustees have also established “an order of concerns” in regards to maintaining a reliable healthcare plan for township employees at this time.
“Our employees and staff come first,” Ross said. “The last thing we want to see happen is for one of our employees to walk into a doctor’s office that refuses our healthcare plan.”
Secondly, Ross pointed out that the township trustees are doing everything they possibly can to avoid a lawsuit with OPEC-HC.
“That is one of the main reasons we decided to stay with OPEC and go with Benovation as our insurance provider, which was also Greene County Assistant Prosecutor Stephanie Hayden’s recommendation,” said Ross. “Xenia Township and the Greene County Health Department are staying with OPEC until the end of the year as well.”
Thirdly, Ross said the township trustees must do everything they can to protect the taxpayers’ money.
“We must protect the monies we have the best way we possibly can,” he said. “All of that is wrapped up with staying with OPEC which we will do through the end of the year. That way we will not expose ourselves to undo financial difficulties.”
Township Trustee John Martin reminded Ross that the township had until Sept. 1 to reconsider renewing its contract with OPEC-HC. However, Ross noted that the township would wait for a proposal from Frank Harman who represents the healthcare consortium before making that decision.
“I am a lot more comfortable this week than I was this time last week because the township has healthcare coverage that is actually working when we visit our doctors,” said Ross. “However, we will continue to collect proposals from insurance agencies and evaluate them over the next few months.”
Linda Collins is a freelance writer for Greene County News.