About 20 employees (less than 1% of the district’s work force) has succeeded in getting the largest employer south of San Antonio to suspend a scheduled increase in members costs towards the district’s self-funded employee health plan.
Perhaps the next step is to get these 20 or so employees to picket and protest outside the community’s two hospital systems against egregious costs. That $1,000 toothbrush charged by some hospitals could be their first bargaining chip…………………….
BISD suspends changes to healthcare plan
By GARY LONG | Staff Writer | Posted 13 hours ago
Brownsville Independent School District trustees voted 4-3 Tuesday afternoon to suspend any changes to BISD’s self-funded healthcare plan pending further review by the district’s Employee Benefits Committee.
The decision came at a special called board meeting after the insurance committee discussed proposed changes to the plan that would have taken effect Oct. 1 and raised premiums in some cases.
Employees had protested Monday that the proposed increased premiums in effect would take away the 3 percent pay raise the board had granted all employees earlier this year.
Board member Sylvia Atkinson made the motion to suspend changes to the plan. Board President Cesar Lopez, Vice President Carlos Elizondo, Atkinson and Trustee Minerva Peña supported the motion. Trustees Joe A. Rodriguez, Laura Perez-Reyes and Philip T. Cowen voted against.
During the insurance committee meeting, BISD Chief Financial Officer Lorenzo Sanchez pointed out that employee healthcare premiums have not increased since 2003, a span of 14 years. The 2015-2016 plan year had a deficit of $13.6 million, and the 2016-2017 plan year had a deficit through August of $14.1 million for a total of $27.7 million, he said.
BISD has compensated for inadequate premiums basically by drawing from fund balance to make healthcare premiums and claims balance out, he said.
Alberto Alegria, president and executive director of the Texas Valley Educators Association, who organized Monday’s protest, said he was pleased with the board’s decision Tuesday.
“I’m super elated,” he said. “The employees can look forward to their pay raise now that they’re going to get it.”
Atkinson thanked Lopez “for hearing us out” on concerns about the changes to the plan that were being proposed.
Superintendent Esperanza Zendejas said BISD will have to review its budget to make sure the healthcare part of it balances. She urged the Employee Benefits Committee to come up with parameters on what to do about the health plan.
“It can’t be just ‘we don’t want to do anything.’ We have to do something,” she said.