Co-insurance costs for preventive care services, as well as women’s preventive benefits of certain county employees, were eliminated by the Imperial County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.
The agenda item also called for the board to disallow retirees or previous county employees who decline health benefits at the end of their service, to enroll for health benefits in the future. Interim Director of Human Resources Rodolfo Aguayo said this decision would streamline various procedures.
But the board decided to continue this matter following protest comments from David Prince, the retirement systems administrator.
“We feel that we have some concern about this particular benefit reduction and we feel that we should have some input,” Prince said after pointing out that according to previous informal agreements, any changes to retirees’ benefits would be discussed with the health insurance committee. This item was never discussed in the Oct. 3 meeting, nor at another meeting Oct. 12, Prince said.
He then explained that retirees or previous county employees sometimes use the spouse’s health insurance until a spouse retires and then decide to activate their county health benefits. Furthermore, Prince said he had concerns about people over 65 years of age, who are not enrolled but entitled to get free services.
Upon notification these people may decide to sign up to protect themselves, he said. “So I don’t think this thing has been thought all the way through about the ramifications to the system.”
Supervisor Gary Wyatt agreed.
“(This) seems to me to be quite a large change that needs to be vetted thoroughly,” Wyatt said. “I frankly couldn’t not possibly be prepared to vote on this today; (this) requires much more information and consultation,” he said.
Supervisor Jack Terrazas, who like the rest of the board shared Wyatt’s concerns on the issue, suggested some exceptions to be inserted in the proposed rule. What if an employee gets in a spousal health plan and the spouse dies, he said. “I think there (are) some extreme situations that do change the situation of a person.”
Here are four things that happened in Tuesday’s meeting:
1 Supervisor Gary Wyatt is reaching out to veteran groups who may be interested in turning Memory Gardens Cemetery in Imperial into a Veteran Cemetery. Over the last several years the cemetery has fallen into deep disrepair and foreclosure.
2 Seaport Airlines, one of the three companies bidding to provide services to the Imperial County Airport, got the support of the board following a brief presentation. Seaport Airlines proposes various flights to San Diego and Burbank. Since the county airport is federally subsidized, the decision on which company will service the airport falls on the federal government. A decision is expected after Nov. 6, said interim airport manager Sandy Gutierrez.
3 The bids to rehabilitate some 27 miles of roadways were sent out by the board. The projects are worth some $4 million and are funded by Local Transportation Authority bonds.
4 A contract of about $54,000 with PMC, a company now in charge of doing the necessary studies to update the housing element of the General Plan, was approved by the board.
Staff Writer Alejandro Davila can be reached at 760-337-3445 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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