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


Senator Corker: U.S. Needs More Proactive Approach To Counter North Korean Nuclear Threat

Following a visit to China, South Korea and Japan three years ago, I argued it was long past time for the United States to get serious about the North Korea threat and China's continued support for the Kim Jong Un regime.  Yet here we are in 2016, on the heels of a missile launch and North Korea's fourth nuclear test -- a test that may well represent a significant technological ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Vote ‘No’ On Vouchers

I fully believe that public education in Hamilton County is the single most important opportunity that challenges us today. Over the weekend the new website for the ‘Chattanooga 2.0’ initiative went up and every parent who has a child in our public system should make it “required reading.” You can find it at www.chatt2.org. Please sign up for updates because a lot of us need to ... (click for more)

Underground Fire Closes Several Downtown Streets

An underground fire closed several downtown streets late Saturday afternoon. At approximately 5:20 p.m., the Chattanooga Fire Department responded to a reported fire in a man-hole at the corner of Chestnut Street and W. 8th Street. When fire companies arrived on the scene, they found black smoke coming from an underground electrical service line. The man-hole cover had been ... (click for more)

16-Year-Old Who Was Shot In The Head In East Ridge Dies

Monserrate Ferrer, the 16-year-old who was shot in East Ridge on Friday, has died. Investigators will meet early next week with the Hamilton County District Attorney's Office to discuss the case. The shooting that involved two juveniles was at the 4200 block of Bennett Road. Responding officers found a 16-year-old boy in the bedroom with a gunshot wound to the head. East ... (click for more)

Red Bank Beats Pigeon Forge For A-AA State Duals Title

FRANKLIN, Tenn. – The Red Bank Lions finally reached the mountain top as far as high school wrestling is concerned. The Lions had finished second to Bradley in the State Duals back in 1995 and it had been 16 years since the Lions had been involved, but they put an exclamation point on a strong dual-meet season by winning the Class A-AA title here at Williamson County Agricultural ... (click for more)

Bradley Whips Soddy Daisy For AAA State Duals Title

FRANKLIN, Tenn. – The Bradley Bears have won more state duals titles than anyone and they added another one after going four years without being in the championship round. It’s been a remarkable season for the Bears, who beat region-rival Soddy Daisy by a 52-21 margin for their latest state title. Saturday night’s   match was never really close as the Bears had a ... (click for more)