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County wants more time to evaluate insurance brokers

Published: Tuesday, May 20, 2014 9:18 p.m. CDT

MORRIS – The special Grundy County Board meeting scheduled for Thursday has been canceled by board Chairman Ron Severson.

Board members were supposed to vote on switching the county’s insurance broker from Northern Insurance Group based in Morris to Williams-Manny Insurance Group based in Rockford, but Severson and members of the Grundy County Personnel Committee decided more thorough research was needed before taking the vote.

“It’s a lot of information you have to gather when you’re making a decision this large, especially when it has to do with our employees’ health insurance,” personnel committee chairwoman Vicki Geiger said. “We felt we needed to do more talking and weighing pros and cons.”

The cancellation comes on the heels of last week’s personnel committee meeting where members overwhelmingly favored hiring Williams-Manny, voting 6-1 in favor of the switch after hearing lengthy presentations from both brokers.

Several county employees were present at the last two personnel and County Board meetings where members discussed the switch.

Severson scheduled the special board meeting directly after last week’s personnel meeting, but said he realized there were lingering, unanswered questions and felt the committee should take more time to investigate before bringing the vote before the full board.

“We did not want to come away from this thing without a clear decision,” Severson said. “I’ve asked the insurance committee to spend some more time doing the research. We’re not going to present this to the full board without them doing further review.”

The county created an insurance sub-committee in February to look into the employee insurance plan provided through Blue Cross Blue Shield.

When they began the process, human resources director Debra Johnson and members of the insurance and personnel committees said they encountered communication and professionalism issues with the insurance broker from Northern.

After the failed communications, Johnson said she began looking for a new broker in March which is when she reached out to Williams-Manny.

Northern Insurance representatives have disagreed with the allegations and have asked to “start from scratch” at recent meetings.

The county’s current insurance plan is set to expire in August and Johnson wanted time to look over the plan with the proposed new broker and look into possible improvements or cost-saving changes.

Johnson said she needed enough time to allow for open enrollment in case the county wanted to make any changes to the plan.

The time constraint was originally why Severson scheduled the special board meeting within the same week as the personnel meeting.

“We still have that [time constraint],” Geiger said. “But if we need to stay the course a little bit longer to meet those deadlines, it’s being considered.”

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