Struthers council to consider insurance issue

By Jeanne Starmack

STRUTHERS — City council is expected to hear a proposal for legislation that would require elected officials to use alternate health insurance that’s available to them if the price is right.

Council member Robert Stouffer and Mayor Terry Stocker said Thursday, however, that if the premium payment on the alternate plan is more than 35 percent of what the city’s is, an official could remain on the city’s plan.

Stouffer, who is the head of council’s finance committee, brought up the proposal at a committee meeting Wednesday, Stocker said.

Stouffer said the plan could save around $50,000 a year.

“And we could expand it into the rank and file,” Stocker said, adding that the city would have to check with union attorneys to see if that’s possible.

The finance committee voted Wednesday to bring the legislation out of the committee to the floor.

Council could pass it at their regular meeting next week as an emergency. It would need six out of seven votes to pass that way, Stouffer said.

If it doesn’t pass at the regular meeting Wednesday, council could set a special meeting for a second reading, he said. Then, council could vote again at the last meeting of the year.

The legislation would have to be passed by Jan. 1, Stouffer said.

Stocker and city Auditor Tina Morell also said the city has finalized its health-insurance plan for next year, taking a 3 percent increase for medical coverage from Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

Morell had been worried that Councilman Dan Yemma’s refusal to provide an application with updated information for the insurer would prevent the city from shopping for better rates after Anthem proposed a 13 percent increase for coverage.

Other insurance companies would not provide a binding quote without updates from everyone on the plan, she said.

Yemma said other companies could provide binding quotes without everyone’s information. He said he wasn’t planning on using the city’s insurance next year because he was hoping legislation he proposed that did away with health coverage for elected officials made it out of the finance committee. It did not. He eventually submitted an application.

Morell said Thursday she did not want to go above a 4 percent increase, so the new rate is acceptable.

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