Complacent Vendor Laments Consultant’s Firing

clientrelAn email obtained by The Brownsville Herald shows TAC Health and Benefits Services Manager Bill Norwood was also in contact with Long during the request for proposals process, which the commission aborted last week.

“I am sorry about this outcome for you and your firm,” Norwood wrote Aug. 7. “It has been a pleasure working with you on this and we will be happy to recommend you in the future. I think we worked together well in developing option ideas for this county.

“We are going to provide them all the cost saving measures I told you about in our calls so we should see several areas with good savings.” 

Brian Naiser, a TAC representative revealed the firm held more conversations with the county in the last two weeks than in the previous five years.

County tables health insurance decision

BY TY JOHNSON STAFF WRITER | Posted Yesterday

Manuel Villarreal, who led the county’s human resources department until his retirement in 2008, will once again direct portions of Cameron County’s personnel policies after the Cameron County Commissioners Court approved a contract with him Thursday morning.

Villarreal will assist with the implementation of the county’s health insurance program and ancillary benefits as part of the agreement, which will pay him $50 an hour, though the commission capped him as a part-time worker.

Villarreal fills the void left by Arnold Flores, who left the county earlier this month after commissioners, led by Precinct 3 Commissioner David A. Garza, fought changes to the county’s health insurance policy.

Garza admitted during last week’s regular meeting that he did not believe the county’s hired consultant, who suggested he had already negotiated savings of 30 percent per employee by exploring the market.

“That’s the whole issue,” Garza said moments before voting to terminate the county’s contract with Gallagher Benefits Services.

Gallagher Vice President Nick Long was still in the courtroom when Garza admitted he did not trust the firm’s report, during which Long said they had already been in contact with 21 providers, 11 of which were ready to submit their proposals, all without compensation thus far.

Moments later, the county terminated its contract with Long in a move leaving the county with a choice between a lapse in coverage or a renewal with the Texas Association of Counties, which offers a health and employee benefits pool.

Garza made no mention Aug. 6 that he was a pharmacist, but Precinct 4 Commissioner Dan Sanchez noted it Thursday, suggesting that having Garza on the commission was a boon during health insurance discussions.

While discussing the terms of a renewal with the Texas Association of Counties, which has handled the county’s health benefits packages since 2008, Brian Naiser, a TAC representative revealed the firm held more conversations with the county in the last two weeks than in the previous five years.

An email obtained by The Brownsville Herald shows TAC Health and Benefits Services Manager Bill Norwood was also in contact with Long during the request for proposals process, which the commission aborted last week.

“I am sorry about this outcome for you and your firm,” Norwood wrote Aug. 7. “It has been a pleasure working with you on this and we will be happy to recommend you in the future. I think we worked together well in developing option ideas for this county.

“We are going to provide them all the cost saving measures I told you about in our calls so we should see several areas with good savings.”

Villarreal will oversee the health insurance renewal process and perform other HR duties beginning today, according to his contract.

County Judge Pete Sepulveda Jr. said Thursday afternoon that the county was eyeing some options within TAC that could generate some savings, but the commission is expected to make a decision next week.

tjohnson@brownsvilleherald.com

See previous posting:

Cameron County Fires Insurance Consultant

Editor’s Note: The county should have not fired the consultant and should have allowed the RFP process to continue.

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