School District employees to pay more for health insurance

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — Employees with the Indian River County School District can expect to pay more for health insurance after the School Board approved premium hikes.

Retirees over the age of 65 can now expect to pay an extra $101 a month for health insurance, while younger retirees, teachers and other active employees will see a $38 bump. The increases are necessary to keep the School District’s health insurance fund solvent, School Board members said.

The reason for the rate disparity between older retirees and others is due to increases in health care costs for the age group over the last seven years that went unchecked.

Martha Hudson, a member of the Indian River County Retired Educators Association, told the School Board that if they had known that the costs were rising, they could have implemented incremental increases, rather than try to fill the gap all at once.

Members of the Indian River County Educators Association – the union representing active teachers – told the School Board that their premiums should not be increased just because the retirees’ health fund runs a deficit.

They argued that the active employees and younger retirees pay more for health insurance yet use less of it.

IRCEA member Dianne Falvo warned the School Board that if it did not approve a retirees-only premium increase the IRCEA stands prepared to exercise all its options pertaining to a case of reverse age discrimination.

The School Board ultimately approved the premium hikes for both groups with a vote of 3-2. School Board Chair Karen Disney-Brombach and Matt McCain cast the dissenting votes.

Superintendent Harry La Cava told the board and audience that it was the only option from a business sense that most protected the district. He said that the move would not affect the district’s bottom line as much as other proposed options and would shrink the deficit from the health insurance fund.

Disney-Brombach and McCain voiced concern over the proposal.

“Teachers have never really been paid,” McCain said, adding that all they really have is the benefits.

“It’s so disheartening,” he said of asking employees to contribute more. “It’s distasteful.”

From a financial perspective, McCain said he could support the move. However, from an emotional standpoint, the board member said he was having a hard time.

He voiced support for implementing the 40 percent hike to the older retirees over a 2-year period – 20 percent this year, 20 percent the following.

Disney-Brombach agreed with phasing in the increase, saying that there is no need for employees to contribute enough to fill the gap all in one year.

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