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Chadwick Bay group considers health insurance consortium

January 21, 2016
By Nicole Gugino ( , Westfield Republican

BROCTON - Now that the North County Water District has moved out of the hands of the Chadwick Bay Regional Development Corporation, local leaders are setting their sights on a new regional project that could save all municipalities in the county money.

The Chadwick Bay board met Thursday at the Brocton American Legion and once again discussed a creating health insurance consortium.

The group previously invited Don Barber of Tompkins County to present on its countywide heath insurance program. While only four people attended that meeting, those who did are sure the savings will convince anybody it is a good idea.

Article Photos

Photo by Nicole Gugino
Pomfret Supervisor Don Steger (left) speaks to Chautauqua County Budget Officer Kitty Crow (right) at the Chadwick Bay Regional Development Corporation meeting Thursday. Also pictured are Portland Supervisor Dan Schrantz and Chadwick Bay Executive Director Pat Stokes.

"This is the only way municipalities can join together to save on health insurance. Tompkins County was the first and it took a lot of work, now it will be easier. It is still a lot of work, but there is a lot of reward. I encourage everyone to attend the presentation we are trying to schedule with Don Barber and Kyle Wilbur (of the Department of State)," Portland Supervisor Dan Schrantz, one of the original attendees, said.

Schrantz added that a health insurance consortium of this kind works best with 2,000 or more employees enrolled, therefore he would like the county, cities and all municipalities to attend the presentation.

Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation Local Economic Development Committee Chair Jay Warren invited Chautauqua Budget Officer Kitty Crow to Thursday's meeting to get her input.

Crow was more cautious in saying all municipalities would see a huge benefit. For example, the county has been able to keep increases in its insurance costs low and mitigate future claims with a wellness program.

"The thing that is drilled into us is cost is based on claims experience, so what can you do to prevent claims?" she said.

Pomfret Supervisor Don Steger pointed out municipalities with few employees start out paying more than the county because of their size.

"I wasn't at the presentation, but talking with these guys, I think it's a good idea because we would have the numbers to say, 'We want something affordable and acceptable,'" Silver Creek Mayor Nick Piccolo said.

Crow agreed a bigger pool is beneficial, but she did have one concern.

"My initial concern, and being on the county negotiation team, as part of our contract we can change to any provider, but the unions have to be a part of the conversation. In the county we have four collective bargaining groups plus all of the municipalities. We would need to get all of them in agreement on what is best for all. So it's best for them to be at the table, even early on," she said.

Schrantz said part of Barber's presentation includes the stumbling blocks Tompkins County faced as the first to do this.

Crow also suggested speaking with the consultant for the schools' consortium and asked if the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce's health exchange could help.

Warren said he spoke with the Chamber's President/CEO Todd Tranum who said he supports the idea of a municipal health consortium, however the Chamber's exchange is for businesses.

Warren also posed a question: "Who is going to be driving this bus?"

"With the water district, the county took the lead. I think that's a good idea for this too," Piccolo said.

Crow did not commit the county to leading this initiative or even to participating, but she did offer to help reserve the County Emergency Services training room for the presentation.

Schrantz has yet to schedule the presentation. The next Chadwick Bay meeting will be Feb. 11 in the town of Dunkirk.



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