The sister of a future school board candidate was a main critic of the change.
AUSTINTOWN -- An Austintown school board member has cut ties with an insurance company to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest over a health care management change.
Michael Creatore said Thursday he resigned as a broker for Medical Mutual of Ohio on Wednesday.
At an Austintown school board meeting Tuesday, Fitch High School teacher Irene Flowers had questioned Creatore's role in a decision by the Mahoning County Schools Employee Insurance Consortium to switch from a local manager for its self-insured health plan to Medical Mutual of Ohio. The plan has been managed by Professional Risk Management of Boardman for 22 years, and Flowers said she is not happy about the change.
Medical Mutual is set to take over as the consortium's plan manager Oct. 1.
Austintown is part of the 14-member consortium, and Creatore said he was very vocal in persuading it to consider other insurance managers to save money.
Flowers said Tuesday that she fears the consortium will not save money with Medical Mutual.
Conflict of interest?
She said that open bidding allowed the company to "say whatever they want and change it later" by knowing what the other bid amounts were. She also said she researched the Internet and discovered Creatore, a financial planner with a license to sell insurance, was registered as a broker for Medical Mutual as of June 20. The consortium voted in July to accept its bid. "I'm not saying he's benefiting, but there could be a conflict of interest," she said Tuesday.
Constant Prassinos, an Austintown attorney, was also at the meeting. Prassinos, who is planning to run for a school board seat in November and is Flowers' brother, said then he believes Creatore did push for Medical Mutual when the consortium was considering bids.
He wants the consortium to halt the change until Creatore's involvement and "the entire process" is investigated.
He said Thursday the consortium has not responded to his request. Richard Denamen, who chairs the consortium, was not available for comment.
Prassinos has also performed legal work for PRM, but said it was over an employee matter that was resolved "at least a year ago." He said he was local counsel for a Cleveland firm that handled the case for PRM. He said he is not retained by PRM at this time.
Austintown and Boardman districts did consider withdrawing from the consortium, but that was after an 8-6 vote to reject Aetna, according to Vindicator files.
Creatore said he was actually in favor of the consortium's accepting Aetna's bid over Medical Mutual's.
But he said that by switching to Medical Mutual from PRM, the consortium will still save millions. Austintown will save between $600,000 and $700,000, he said.
Creatore said Tuesday that he never benefited from the plan manager change.
He said Thursday he "never wrote a piece of business" for Medical Mutual in the short time he was a broker for it. He said he also resigned as a broker for Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, because he doesn't want to cause the appearance of impropriety by being associated with any hospitalization companies.
"I resigned yesterday," he said. "So there'll be no question."
He said he now sells only life insurance and variable annuities.