Vote No On Health Insurance Changes Affecting County Teachers

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Our Hamilton County School Board will vote on insurance changes effecting both active employees and retirees, who are not on Medicare at this time.  HCEA strongly objects to changes being made at this time and urges a “No” vote.  Insurance had been frozen three years by negotiations.  Since the Educators Professional Negotiations Act was nullified by the 2011 Legislature, the agreement was that we would address it in negotiations.  Now, under the new law, we will collaboratively conference.  These changes should be on the agenda for collaborative conferencing and not being determined only by management.

In a copy of a report to the School Board dated May 19, 2010, Ed Adams, a consultant to the Board, gave some interesting information that certainly speaks to our issue today.

First, only 58.5 percent of our employees used generic drugs.  By increasing by one percent, we could save approximately $247,000 annually.

Going to a three-tier drug co-pay system was to save the district $1.5 million a year.  We instituted it.

 The district instituted a 30-day maximum prescription at a retail pharmacy. This move was to save the system $668,100.

Additionally, 73 percent of our employees  have started using generic prescriptions from a mail plan through Caremark. Per percentage point using the generic mail order was to save $412,000 per year.  The industry (other school districts) average was 40.7 percent usage.  Therefore, our teachers are making a good faith effort to save the district money. We moved from seven percent to 73 percent usage because we talked about our district needing to contain costs so our teachers could get raises.  Again, this change was at no cost to the district.

 Other changes were recommended but these changes required the district to invest money in wellness suggestions such as reductions in the YMCA or other gym membership fees. Some suggestions required the district to investigate the nurses giving flu shots and routinely checking blood pressure of teachers.  Again, the district did nothing.

HCEA has helped to inform teachers that by saving the district money, resources could be made available for classroom needs and salaries.  So far, teachers are still using antiquated technology.  There was a raise last year, but before that we had not had a raise in three years.

 These insurance changes should be discussed at the Collaborative Conferencing table and this crisis is just a ploy to avoid the association's participation and rush the vote. Complying the law, HCEA cannot take a letter of intent to collaborate to our employer until October 1.  Indeed, these are unnecessarily harsh and costly insurance changes for employees and retirees whose work should be valued and respected.

A “No” vote is the only way to ensure complete fairness, objectivity, and integrity in making the decision.  The Board has not received current information from the vendors and no options for the Board to create opportunities for teachers improve their own health in a stressful occupation.

Sandy Hughes

Hamilton County Education Association

Joe Smith Will Be Our Watchdog

I am writing as a registered Democratic voter asking that all voters, regardless of party affiliation, vote for Independent Candidate Joe Smith for District 3 Hamilton County commissioner.  The Hamilton County Commission is the local legislative branch of our county government and their duties include making policies, ordinances, appropriating funds and many other things ... (click for more)

Medical Cannabis Can Literally Save Lives

Narcotic drug overdoses have increased in our area over 40 percent in the past year, and it's time to do something about this public health crisis. Tennessee Bureau of Investigations Director Mark Gwyn said, "We had more overdose deaths in the state last year than we had traffic fatalities."  Medical cannabis is an alternative to the use of potentially dangerous narcotics ... (click for more)

Man Shot And Killed In St. Elmo Monday Morning; Police Interview Person Of Interest

One person was shot and killed in St. Elmo Monday morning. Police said they had interviewed a person of interest in the slaying. Chattanooga Police at 8:30 a.m. responded to a person shot at the 5000 block of Florida Ave. Upon police arrival the victim (male) had already succumbed to his injuries. The victim suffered at least one gunshot wound. At this time the Chattanooga ... (click for more)

6 People, Including 4 Children, Die In Mobile Home Fire In Trion, Ga.

Six people, including four children, died in a mobile home fire at Trion, Ga., on Sunday night. The fire broke out on Airport Road in Chattooga County. The victims were identified as Miron Bradley Jones, 29; Demi Josephine Jones, 22; Clair McKenzie Jones, 5, Lola Rosanna Jones, 3, Olivia Josephina Jones (three months), and Jada Marie Kendrick, 5, who was a cousin spending ... (click for more)

UTC Women Fall To UNCG 1-0 To End Regular Season

 The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women’s soccer team fell 1-0 at UNCG Sunday afternoon to close out the regular season. The Mocs end the year at 6-10-2 overall and 4-4-1 in the Southern Conference and tie the Spartans (7-10-2, 4-4-1 SoCon) for fifth in the standings.   “It was another tough result,” Chattanooga head coach Gavin McKinney said. “We did, however, ... (click for more)

Notre Dame Draws Top Ranked Greeneville, CCS Opens With Madison Magnet

For the second year in a row, Notre Dame drew the top-ranked Greeneville in the opening round of the TSSAA Class A/AA state tournament.  Notre Dame is scheduled to play Greeneville on Wednesday at 8 p m. (EST)  in Murfreesboro. CCS will play Madison Magnet in the first round on field #1 at 7:30 p.m. (EST) . CCS and Greeneville met in the state championship game ... (click for more)