BDD expects competition to soften the blow of insurance cost increase

LISBON – A nearly 40 percent increase on the cost of health insurance is projected for the Columbiana County Board of Developmental Disabilities, but Superintendent Bill Devon is optimistic the cost can be decreased.

Devon mentioned the increase briefly at the end of the board meeting Wednesday, to caution employees it could happen, although he hopes it won’t.

The board is still in negotiations with the union representing workshop employees and bus drivers, so the insurance coverage remains the same as last year for now.

Insurance costs agreed to in November of last year included raising premiums to $1,290 per month for family coverage and $702 for single coverage through Anthem Blue Cross-Blue Shield.

The employees share in the cost of the monthly premiums, depending on the union agreement.

Devon said the teachers and service support unions are paying 10 percent while the workshop and bus drivers are paying $90 per month for family and $45 for single.

Devon said the company listed a 39.97 percent increase in its initial quote for the new annual coverage, and he believes it will drop as competition is introduced.

In fact, a competitor has already offered a quote that is only a 19.7 percent increase, he added.

He said the increase through Anthem is a combination of the anticipated healthcare reforms known as Obamacare, but also because this has been a “bad experience year” for the BDD.

“It will get better from here,” he said.

The BDD operates three workshops, including the Beaver Creek Candle Co., and those union negotiations began last October.

The union and board are now down to the “nitty gritty” of the negotiations, and a mediator has been involved, he said.

He did not offer details.

The BDD’s two other unions cover Robert Bycroft School employees, including teachers, and service support administrators.

In other business, the BDD recently purchased and installed 24 new security cameras at the school on state Route 172. The cameras were installed by the Columbiana County Sheriff’s Office and cost roughly $8,000, Devon said.

Some hedges were also removed to help with visibility in the event someone is approaching the school, he added.

The BDD began looking into video surveillance after the tragedy at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., he said.

The surveillance is focused on hallways and entrance ways and automatically re-records every 30 days to keep the school in compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), he said.

The board approved a new policy for the security system at the Wednesday meeting.

Also approved was:

– Purchasing an orientation program with Medicaid Consulting Group at a cost of $3,500.

– A new board policy regarding background investigations for employment, to comply with the new administrative rule.

– Use of the EDI-Central multipurpose room to Carla Moats on Oct. 26, with Phil Carter managing the site.

– A contract with the Educational Service Center (ESC) for an employment first initiative specialist I, at a cost not to exceed $35,000.

– Committing to funding the Bridges to Transition program of $41,957.81 in a match to draw an additional $150,000. The match will pay for a full-time coordinator for the program, Devon said.

– Renewing a contract with the ESC for the Bridges to Transition coordinator covered by the above grant.

– Opening bids on Jan. 7 for a school bus to replace one of the current buses that will be put into the spare rotation. There are 23 buses in the fleet and 19 run routes regularly.

– Purchasing a new 22-passenger handicap van under the state contract at a cost not to exceed $90,000, less trade-in value.

– Associate membership in Arc of Ohio for 2014 at a cost of $2,500.

– Emergency individual options waivers for two students. The waivers are state funded and approved by the ethics committee.

– A Level One waiver for a student with a cap of $5,000, and also approved by the ethics committee.