CHESHIRE, Mass. — With the help of a reimbursement from Berkshire Health Group, the Adams-Cheshire Regional School District returned the retiree health insurance split to 75/25.
The School Committee voted last Monday to continue providing 75 percent of the premiums for non-Medex users after receiving nearly $200,000 in Berkshire Health Group Retiree Drug Subsidy Funds. The split for Medex users will go back to 67/33.
Last month, the committee voted to change the retiree health insurance split to 60/40 for non-Medex users and 51/49 for Medex users, by fiscal 2021, to be more in line with active employees.
"The committee then heard from retirees who attended the meeting and decided to phase in the Medex splits over the next three years starting with a 67/33 split in FY19," Superintendent Robert Putnam said. "They did not change the PPO and POS splits."
The switch had an immediate impact on the proposed $19,557,372 the fiscal 2019 budget that with the new split would increase by 1.46 percent. Without the change in the health insurance split, Business Manager Erika Snyder said the budget would see an increase of 2.46 percent. However, the district was able to use funds from excess and deficiency to offset the increase.
Snyder said the district was able to make last-minute budget adjustments through the reimbursement program. This is a program offered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to reimburse health plan sponsors for a portion of their eligible expenses for retiree prescription drug benefits.
Snyder said Berkshire Health Group received a series of these reimbursements over the years that created a pool of money used to maintain rates. Because Berkshire Health Group funds are currently strong, and its board voted in February to disburse these reimbursements gathered from fiscal years 2006, 2008 and 2009 to Berkshire Health group members.
Out of the $1.8 million being dispersed, Adams-Cheshire will receive $200,000.
Snyder said this pool of money was not entirely siphoned off to offset unchanged splits and that the School committee voted to add $65,000 to E & D in order to keep the town of Cheshire's assessment under a 3 percent increase.
"We are headed into the second year of a healthy fund balance and the School Committee felt it was appropriate to take this opportunity to give some relief to the towns," she said.
A portion of the town assessments are calculated by the state and out of the district’s control, however, the district can adjust the over minimum assessments.
She added the funds will also be used to extend Project Lead The Way programming to Grades 6 and 9.
"This is a source of income that will not be available in coming years and must be used to support only those items that wouldn’t require a year after year commitment of funds," she said.
"These funds will be used to offset the changes in retiree insurance as well as fund the startup costs and implementation of PLTW for Grades 6 and 9."
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