Parish Council approves debated insurance extension

Published 12:04 am Wednesday, October 19, 2016

LAPLACE — St. John the Baptist Parish parish workers learned their health insurance premiums are on the rise again.

Human Resources Director Stacy Cador told Parish Council members last week to avoid the risk of a much higher increase she was proposing the parish extend its health insurance agreement with Humana through Tatje Insurance and Financial Products for one year at a 5.5 percent increase.

The raise comes one year after the parish was hit with a 20 percent increase in health care premiums.

Councilman Marvin Perrilloux was vehement in his opposition and repeatedly questioned Cador and Natalie Tatje of Tatje Insurance, which is the broker, as to why a Request for Qualifications was not advertised.

Tatje said she contacted several carriers about submitting proposals but they would not do it unless the administration committed to not going out for RFP (request for proposal). She said she has to “wait for direction from the administration to go out to RFP.”

“I don’t know why we have to have any increase,” Perrilloux said. “Last year we were shocked at 20 percent. It should be at zero.”

Tatje said engaging the workforce in wellness programs, such as biometrics screening, healthy nutrition habits and a commitment to exercise, would ultimately drive down premiums.

Rhonda Bagby, senior vice president for Humana in Louisiana and south Mississippi, said the company paid out $106 for every $100 in claims this past year. She agreed with Tatje that stressing a wellness program would reduce premiums.

Perrilloux reminded administration officials that many employees did not renew their insurance last year because of the increase.

Councilman Lennix Madere Jr. compared insurance companies to casinos because “they take in more than ever put out.”

“You don’t want us to get sick because you have to pay. When we get sick you want to come back and make us pay,” he said.

Council members ultimately approved the extension.

As he has done during at least one previous meeting, Madere continued to question public works director Brian Nunes as to why Phase III of the Reserve Drainage Project would not cover the distance as originally projected. The project is providing subservice drainage on East 24th Street and was originally projected to include from the railroad tracks southbound to Sweet Lorraine Drive.

However, as Nunes explained to Madere in a meeting on Sept. 27, the $3 million project was scaled back because there was not enough money to cover the entire length to Sweet Lorraine Drive.

“The budget made the decision; we didn’t have the money,” Nunes said, adding another $1.1 million would be needed.

“We are going to Sweet Lorraine,” said Madere, adding the Council needs to find the money, adding he believes there is at least $1 million in the budget that could be found.

— By Richard Meek