Meridian Star

September 24, 2013

Emergency meeting to address Bland veto

From staff reports
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     The Meridian City Council has called an emergency special meeting for Thursday at 9:30 a.m. to consider Mayor Percy Bland's veto of the council's plan to continue use of its current health provider, Fox-Everett.

    The meeting will take place in the council meeting chambers located on the third floor of City Hall.

    At issue is a 4-1 vote by the council last week to keep Fox-Everett rather than accept a recommendation by Business Management Group, which handles the city's plan, to switch to United Healthcare.

    Bland said the city stands to save $280,000 annually by switching to United.     Those voting in favor of keeping the current plan were Ward One Councilman George Thomas, president of the council; Ward Two Councilman Dustin Markham; Ward Three Councilwoman Barbara Henson; and Ward Four Councilwoman Kim Houston.

    Ward Five Councilman Randy Hammon voted against keeping Fox-Everett, saying the $280,000 in savings to the city was too big to ignore.

    In a letter to the council following his veto, Bland states, "I feel strongly that the city should accept the lower bid for group health insurance proposed by United Healthcare."

    Thomas said last week some of the concerns about changing the city's health insurance stemmed from uncertainty about what the United Healthcare policy would offer.

    "The independent agent that presented each of the proposals to us, both UHC and Fox-Everett based their bid on the exact same data ...The large difference in cost is attributable to the fact that UHC has negotiated lower rates with providers than has Fox-Everett," Bland wrote.

    Thomas said last week the council can override Bland's veto with four votes. If that happens, the council's previous vote to stay with Fox-Everett will stand. If there are less than four votes on the five-member council, the veto stands.