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Supervisors approve health care changes

A heated discussion ensued Tuesday regarding a petition presented by Farmville District 101 Supervisor Howard F. Simpson on behalf of more than 70 county employees regarding the changing of health care funding from the Local Choice health benefits program.

The petition was presented and discussed during Tuesday’s board of supervisors’ meeting — one where supervisors adopted their operating budget for fiscal year 2017-18.

Local Choice is what the county has used to manage funding for county employees’ health insurance, acting as a pool for insurance costs.

Wade Bartlett

A 5-3 vote stipulated the county change from Local Choice to a self-funded system.

Simpson, Leigh District Supervisor Jerry R. Townsend and Prospect District Supervisor Calvin L. Gray voted in opposition to the motion to leave Local Choice.

As a result of the action, Delta Dental will no longer administer dental insurance. It will now be administered by Anthem Dental. Blueview Vision will no longer administer vision insurance; it will be administered by Anthem Vision.

County Administrator Wade Bartlett said one health care package would change regardless of whether the county left Local Choice or not.

“That is the 500 Family Plan, but it was going to change anyways. It was going to increase no matter what we did,” Bartlett said.

He said the deductibles have been $250 or $500 and will now become $300 or $500.

Bartlett said co-pays would increase as well.

Howard Simpson

“There will probably be increases on pregnancy and any surgeries and hospital stays,” Bartlett said. “It depends on the procedure and the cost.”

He said the maximum out-of-pocket expense would be $3,500.

Regarding the petition, Simpson said those who signed it were county employees who opposed the health care funding change.

“These are the employees that signed the petition requesting that the health insurance not … be changed, for it to stay as it is,” Simpson said. “The names I have here, a whole lot of them, some of them (are) out sick, some of them (had) days off and I didn’t get them, but they are requesting to leave their health insurance as be.”

Farmville 801 District Supervisor and Board Vice Chairman Pattie Cooper-Jones asked Simpson who started the petition.

“They asked me about it. Employees of different departments asked me about how they could go about getting the word out (and said) that they didn’t want it. And I told them the best thing for them to do is to get a petition up and sign it in each department, and those who didn’t want it didn’t have to sign it,” Simpson said.

Pattie Cooper-Jones

“You’re saying that they wanted to do it? I’ve been contacted by several people that said you came to departments and encouraged them to do it, which I think is in total conflict with the board,” Cooper-Jones said. “If employees wanted to do this, that’s one thing, but I think it’s in total conflict with our board and what our mission is for you to go and try to tell people that the county is trying to voodoo them out of their insurance.”

Simpson said he hadn’t encouraged anyone to sign the petition.

“If they had it, if they wanted to sign it, they could sign it. If they didn’t want to sign it, they didn’t have to sign it,” Simpson said. “If they asked me something, the employees about being a (member of the board of supervisors), I’m going to answer them truthfully. I’m not going to try to lead them in the wrong direction.”

“That’s all well and good but you even told me last night that you didn’t even understand the insurance. So how are you going to advise them about what the insurance is when you said that you did not understand the insurance?” Cooper-Jones said.

According to Simpson there are 108 employees on the county’s health insurance. Out of the 108, 72 people signed the petition.

Of the 72, 21 were from the sheriff’s office, 33 were from Social Services, eight were from Piedmont Court Services, seven were from the circuit court clerk’s office and three were from the treasurer’s office.