School District Saves Big Bucks By Sticking With Humana

In move that could net $600,000 in savings the School Board agrees to stick with Humana as it moves toward a self-funded health insurance for staff. They later met in closed session to discuss the specific plan to take to a vote Oct. 22.

Editor's Note: This article was updated Tuesday evening to include a link to the health care provider information that was posted on the school district website.

The Menomonee Falls School Board is hoping to save big dollars by moving toward a self-funded insurance plan with its current provider, Humana.

The School Board voted to move forward with Humana as the insurance provider starting in 2013. The district hopes to save roughly $600,000 through by switching to a self-funded system with Humana, but administrators are working under a time crunch to get proper approvals before moving forward.

The board compared the rates of three different insurers: Anthem, United Healthcare (UMR) and Humana. The district went with its current provider, but will switch to a self-funded model. Sticking with Humana will save the district $400,000, and another $200,000 could be saved after a specific plan is chosen for staff.

The vote on determining the provider on Monday received some criticism from Falls resident Annette Virlee.

“I’m surprised that with all the commotion and community unrest over the contract that was signed – and one of the big issues in the community was the health care plan – why would you would not present any of that information to the community before a vote?” Virlee asked. “It was a really big deal for those who were here.”

The board chose to stick with Humana at the strong recommendation of Director of Human Resources Christiane Standlee. The board later went into closed session to chose the specific plan with Humana. The board had three options of heal care plans to choose from. The specific health plan chosen will go for a discussion at the next meeting on Oct. 22, and a vote will be taken on Oct. 29.

“Quite frankly, we are just voting on the provider here and not plan detail. We are hired to make these decisions for the district,” said board member Gina Palazzari. “It’s not that you throw the doors open and the public has to be involved in the minutia of what we’re deciding.”

Although board members acknowledged they were moving quickly, the price of inaction was costly. Superintendent Patricia Greco said delaying a vote on the provider and plan would cost the district some $80,000 in savings. The district is approaching year’s end, and contracts and transitions typically take some 90 days to turn around.

Standlee said information about the provider would be posted on the school district website on Tuesday. That way, residents would have two weeks to review the information before a vote. Information on the health care provider and the decision analysis can be found on the district's website. Information on the specific plan is still being determined.

Menoparent October 10, 2012 at 12:56 AM
Does not surprise me, Stanlee says it will be posted on website, not done yet. This district who thinks ACT 10's ruling of unconstitutional only applies to Madison area teachers!!?? Nobody commented on the article, the school district can say and do anything without parent input because most parents don't care and are for ACT 10 in this village except for the teachers. We will see what happens to our kids education long-term with this kind of attitude. I am a concerned parent and not a teacher. I hope the district keeps their word on having parents surveys and they should be anonymous.
dave October 10, 2012 at 01:50 AM
Great Job by the School board for once, thinking about the taxpayer! Nobody in the private sector gets to decide what which health insurance plan they are offered- and neither should the teachers in the district. Don't like it, quit, and we will find someone who is just as qualified, just as smart, just as experienced, and without all the whining.
Menoparent October 10, 2012 at 01:51 AM
All we hear about is the big bucks saved at the expense of silenced good teachers. Administration doesn't have to answer to no one because they have the full backing of parents. Administration never takes a cut to share the cuts they voted for with Walker. We'll just let the teachers take the cut and weed out the bad teachers and don't ask us how we will do this because you know we were for ACT 10 just trust us! Where is the taxpayer parents blindly voting for this benefiting from all these savings? They are not because the state plans to cut more from education and send less money to your town so your school needs to bank these savings and will not benefit our children's educational future. A stalemate in education is what I believe is in our education future. I want my kids teachers to have a say in and myself what goes on in the classroom like it was. I remember more parent survey input with Marty and valued teacher opinions.
Steve ® October 10, 2012 at 03:36 AM
Cry more. Please post a picture of the check you wrote to a teacher in need of funding for benefits.
jerry mislang October 10, 2012 at 12:00 PM
Surveys are effective only if you use the input. I've seen surveys where there was overwhelming support for a topic and the final decision was something else.
Menoparent October 10, 2012 at 12:14 PM
Exactly, Jerry, like changing school times.
Let's Roll October 10, 2012 at 12:21 PM
Finally this insurance change is taking place. Just think of all the money wasted by using the WEAC insurance instead of competitive bidding. Millions wasted and extorted from the district. The teachers will see no reduction in coverage or benefits. They may have to contribute to their plan but that is standard practice for everyone. Thanks for ending the shakedown school board. That money can be put toward better uses.
WEACHATER October 10, 2012 at 12:24 PM
“Quite frankly, we are just voting on the provider here and not plan detail. We are hired to make these decisions for the district,” said board member Gina Palizzarri. “It’s not that you throw the doors open and the public has to be involved in the minutia of what we’re deciding.” This is what you get when you hire a teachers union hack to the board. I also find it quite enlightening, that not choosing WEA Trust, is why we are saving $600,000 for one year. So how much money did we piss to the wind by allowing WEA Trust to be the provider for how many years? This is what we should be involved in, and Gina's stance shows just how the elites think that us Tax payers are just too stupid to be allowed to know the exact details of any decisions.
Gina Palazzari October 10, 2012 at 04:00 PM
Not quite, WEAC hater. We voted on the PROVIDER only on Monday night, based on a very thorough, weighted assessment. My quote was a reaction to a suggestion that we stall a vote on the PROVIDER. Such a delay would have set us back on going self-funding, which is the real money saver. I believe the public is most interested in the plan design itself, aside from the massive savings of going self-funded. We will provide ample time to present this to the public and get reactions. But, WEAC hater, in the end the Board is hired to make the decisions. We needed to make a business decision and proceed with saving the district money. You've been calling me a hack and a unionista for quite some time-- and some of your Facebook posts about me were quite frankly not-so-subtly threatening. If you disagree with and dislike me so much why don't you come to a school board meeting or ask to speak with me in person? Hiding behind fake names in cyberspace lacks true purpose and is cowardly.
Craig October 10, 2012 at 04:19 PM
Hey Gina; Did you or did you not vote on an eleventh hour contract that you did not understand or read?
Carl Engelking October 10, 2012 at 04:50 PM
In closed session on Monday the board discussed the specific plan, but it will go through the traditional discussion/vote sequence. Initially, it appeared they would be voting on Oct. 22, but it was decided to discuss the plan in public, then vote on it Oct. 29. District PIO Mitchell Maersch informed me this morning. I also added the links to the information Tuesday evening.
Bert October 10, 2012 at 05:28 PM
The district voted to stay with it's CURRENT health care supplier - Humana. Note - the CURRENT health care supplier is Humana. That means that even before today, the district was using Humana. Thus, it was Humana that was in the notorious "contract" that some uninformed people on this board get all lathered up about. The district already saved hundreds of thousands thanks to that contract, and the insurance changes in the contract.
Carl Engelking October 10, 2012 at 05:32 PM
Correct, Humana was part of the contract signed - this is now making the move to a self-funded model but keeping the same health care provider. The plan will be discussed Oct. 22 in public, and voted on Oct. 29. Information about the provider is available on the district website, and the plan info will also be available.
Bert October 10, 2012 at 05:33 PM
Hater - are you unable to read, or is it simply comprehension that gives you so much trouble? Where in this article does WEA Trust appear? Is that the CURRENT provider? (No, as any first grader reading this article could tell, the CURRENT provider is Humana). Was WEA Trust among the providers evaluated? No, again, ask a first grader. The three providers evaluated were Humana, Anthem, and United Healthcare. Was WEA Trust the "baseline" against which the savings are measured? No, the baseline is the current Humana plan. If you are any indication, I would say there's plenty of evidence to suggest that "us Tax payers" ARE too stupid to be involved in decision-making. (Fortunately, not all of us taxpayers are as uninformed and incapable of comprehension as Hater).
Bert October 10, 2012 at 05:38 PM
You mean the contract that included the original money-saving change to Humana in the first place? The contract that will remain intact even if the Wisconsin and/or US Supreme courts uphold the recent ruling that Act 10 violates the state and US Constitutions by setting up arbitrarily different laws for different unions? Thank goodness the board had the foresight to sign a contract with the union to achieve all those savings, rather than rely on a hastily-passed and seriously flawed piece of legislation!
WEACHATER October 10, 2012 at 06:41 PM
"You've been calling me a hack and a unionista for quite some time" This is exactly who you are. Get over it.
Steve ® October 10, 2012 at 06:59 PM
$600,000 more in savings on top of the 1.2 million from switching from WEA screw us trust? Thank you Walker for allowing us to shop around and get out of the scam that is a public union. http://menomoneefalls.patch.com/articles/falls-joining-12-other-districts-taking-legal-action-against-wea
Craig October 10, 2012 at 07:55 PM
If the board had foresight they would have taken the time to read the contract that they voted on Bert. We will see exactly how far Act 10 'violated' law after a 'real impatial' judge rules, so don't start tooting your horn, Bert. By the way Bert, Ernie called and he wants his underwear back.
Craig October 10, 2012 at 07:57 PM
Steve: You hit the nail on the head! Wait for Bertrude to start attacking you soon. Bert is a puppet, but he has rehearsed his lines well. Too bad he can't think for himself. But of course being a puppet, he has no brains- no wonder he likes Gina!
Bert October 10, 2012 at 10:14 PM
Who precisely "didn't read" the contract? I'd venture to guess that Gina, as the chair of the personnel committee, had a full understanding of the contract. Of course, this is the classic right-wing know-nothing crying point anytime something doesn't go their way, even something like the district's contract which delivered everything a right-winger could want. The board didn't stop the bus just because an uneducated mob of talk-radio listening zombies decided to show up at their first board meeting ever and blather on about things they had no understanding of. Instead, they proceeded to implement a well-conceived contract that saved the district tons of money, avoided the absurd drama that played out in neighboring districts, and obviated any concern that the multitude of legal flaws in the legislature's bill would negate those savings. You're obviously emotionally vested in the political side of Act 10, but the Constitutional issues raised by affording different rights to different "types" of public employee are quite significant. It was stupid to exempt the firefighters and cops from Act 10, and that stupidity places the law on very shaky legal footing. Thankfully, MFSD is unaffected either way. (I'd sure love to be a fly on the wall of the New Berlin board when it has to negotiate with the teacher's union it spent the last 18 months trashing, though!)
Bert October 10, 2012 at 10:23 PM
Craig - spouting off stuff you hear on talk radio doesn't substitute for "thinking". I've never seen you post an original thought on this board, just Belling and Sykes regurgitation. Second, MFSD switched from WEA trust without Act 10. It did that under a negotiated contract with the teachers. IF the district had decided to use Act 10 as the basis for switching, rather than working to gain the agreement of the union, then those savings would be at risk if and when Act 10 is ruled unconstitutional. Whether you believe that will happen or not, it is certainly possible. What you can "thank" Walker for is stupidly discriminating between those unions who supported his campaign and those that didn't. That discrimination is the basis of the current lawsuit, as well as a potential gender discrimination suit that will surely follow. You can genuinely thank the board for achieving huge savings through negotiation rather than fiat, because the negotiated savings will stand even when the law falls.
Carl Engelking October 10, 2012 at 10:28 PM
I will say, since that contract was passed, attendance at School Board meetings has been Annette Virlee and Michele Divelbiss. Other than that - staff or folks getting recognition from the board at the start of the meeting. Lots and lots of empty chairs there. Village Board is the same, unless there is a large audience that watches from home.
Let's Roll October 10, 2012 at 10:52 PM
To address WEACHater: The number you are looking for is $600K times the number of years they used WEAC instead of going with a competitive bid. So, would that be 10 - 15 years? So, congrats to this school board and superintendent for finally making this happen. My question would be, who were the advocates and who were the obstructionists? The obstructionists are the ones who should be tarred and feathered! Now that the facts and savings are a matter of public record. Who wants to admit they wanted to keep WEAC "Trust"? Carl, large audiences and cable access are never used in the same sentence. FYI
WEACHATER October 10, 2012 at 11:18 PM
Ok so lets ask Bert and Gina a question. What caused us to change our insurance carrier in the first place? Was it Act 10? Why were we overpaying for so long, and what was it that made us finally get away from WEA Trust?
Craig October 11, 2012 at 01:49 AM
Berty: Patch did a story covering the contract vote. Do a little work on your own and look for it. Hint: It was also a video for you to look at in case you do not understand the big words...The crowd cried shame shame! Something you should identify with. I don't listen to Belling or Sykes, mainly because I do not have the time. Even with all the time in the world, I would never listen to a puppet like you. By the way, do you have a slit in the back of your neck or is someone pulling strings for you?


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