“The FOP has proposed what they’d like to do and we met with the board of County Commissioners yesterday (Wednesday), myself, and Cross Management, who always does our negotiating, and we gave them our recommendations,” Scioto County Sheriff Marty V. Donini said. “The FOP wants to renew the contract for three years with no changes. However, next October, they want to be able to re-open the wages for the next two years. They’ll freeze the wages in 2012. But I think our counter is going to be that we re-open the wages and the health insurance.”
Donini said he believes the county wants to re-open the health insurance because they don’t know what the cost is going to be.
“You never know until after the fact, and we keep a close eye on that. So that’s the major reason,” Scioto County Commissioner’s Chairman Tom Reiser said. “The Sheriff’s Department has been very good. We don’t have anything against them. It’s just that it is such an uncertainty. And we understand their situation, too. They want to protect themselves, but we have to look at it a little bit differently.”
Reiser said the county made some changes in the past year in their health benefits account.
“Over the past five years we have been with Anthem and Portsmouth Insurance. And Gary Duzan is our broker,” Reiser said. “Every year we look at policies.” He said the county has received good advice from Portsmouth Insurance. He said two years ago the county told the company the county needed to cut their insurance cost approximately $1 million. He said there were several things the county had to do to make that possible.
Reiser said the only three companies that will give the county quotes on health insurance are Medical Mutual, Anthem and United Health. He said Commissioners took quotes from all three.
“If you just look at it from the standpoint of the rate, we didn’t necessarily take the absolute lowest rate, because what we want is a cap on what the next rate (renewal) will be,” Reiser said. “Anthem gave us the best deal on caps. Looking back on it, if we had taken the lowest bid, when it was renewed last year, we would have paid a lot more because their cap was about twice what Anthem gave us. Anthem gave us a base cap of a six percent increase, and the next best base cap was like a 12 or 15 percent increase.”
Reiser said insurance rates are based on actual usage of the benefits, and last year the county had what he termed “a bad year” on claims, resulting in the rate going up. But if there had not been a cap in place, the increase would have been considerably higher.
“We’ve already met with United Health Care this year, and we’ll probably get a quote from them,” Reiser said. “We would prefer to stay where we are because it just makes for a lot less headaches for employees, but we aslo have to look at the dollars, and we have to look at the future and our crystal ball is pretty foggy when it comes to insurance rates.”
Donini said negotiations are not in the official stages yet because of the dates involved in the actual contract process.
“Oct. 1 is when we can renegotiate,” Donini said. “We’re at the end of our three-year contract come December. Our contract allows us to re-open on Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, to negotiate a contract for the next three years.”
FRANK LEWIS may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or email@example.com.