Sunday, October 30, 2011

COSA's Hollow Health Insurance Promises

Memo dated October 27, 2011 to Mayor Alvin New and San Angelo City Council members:

"At the December 7, 2010 Council meeting where the premium adjustments were approved for calendar year 2011, there was discussion regarding a concerted effort to involve employees and retirees in the process for 2012 rates."  -  City Human Resources/Risk Management Director Lisa Marley

Four days before Council meets on November 1, the public and employees received notice health insurance for 2012 was on the agenda.  The public had to go to the City's web site and pull up the agenda, which lists health insurance as item #11, after an Executive/Closed Session.  Employees received an e-mail, informing them health insurance would be the first item on the agenda.

Having offered public comment numerous times on health insurance, I would not have shown up at 9:15 am,the time given to employees.  In my mind the City released documents within hours of one another, guiding people to appear at what could be viewed as vastly different times.  Will one group be shortchanged?  Will it be the citizens of San Angelo, supposedly at the top of COSA's organizational chart or employees, required to take vacation to appear and comment?

Here's the heading of the e-mail.  Note the date and time:

Friday, October 28, 2011 2:14 PM
Subject: Fwd: For City-Wide Distribution: New Insurance

Authorized for distribution by the City Manager's Office.

TO: All Employees
(Supervisors: Please print for those employees without email.)
How many employees got the e-mail before leaving work Friday, especially those without e-mail?  How long does it take to process a vacation request?  Are there limits on how many employees can be on vacation at one time?

Council promised to do better on this contentious issue.  More than once leaders said they would involve retirees in the process, an apparent lick and a promise.   

“A lick and a promise” means “a superficial effort made without care or enthusiasm.” To perform a task with “a lick and a promise” is to do the absolute minimum required, and often far less than that. 
Retirees were involved only at the last moment, much like the City's distributing the agenda, agenda packet and employee e-mail.

Major changes are afoot, given the city's plans to spend no new money on health insurance.  One provider will be chosen, Shannon or Community.  Benefits may fall.  Retirees and employees may have to find new primary care doctors and specialists in short order.  While the city surveyed employees on possible changes, it did not include early retirees, once again casting doubt on Council's "concerted effort."

There will be no time to conduct research on options, mobilize city retirees or the general public.  November 1 is decision day, given benefit enrollment is planned the week before Thanksgiving, November 14.  Council won't meet again until November 15.  The COSA health insurance train is gaining steam, ready to achieve ramming speed.  How many employees and retirees will be tossed about this Tuesday?

It's different than casting out 192 covered employees, retirees and dependents, Council's 2010 achievement.  Early retirees have to wonder when the City's promise of "lower premiums or better benefit" will come true.  San Angelo delivers retiree licks better than promises.

Those wishing to read the e-mail can do so below:

COSA HI Emp Letter

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