Insurance proposal hits a snag

By Bill Felber

Members of the Riley County Law Board thwarted an RCPD effort to restructure its approach to insurance coverage Monday.

Instead, law board members directed the department to issue formal requests for proposals from companies that might be interested in providing insurance. It also stipulated that inclusion of other “high-risk” occupations — including the city’s own fire department — might be considered.

The directive reversed a 2010 law board directive empowering RCPD Director Brad Schoen to “handle all matters as they relate to entering into insurance contracts that are in the best interest of RCPD.”

The proposal presented by Schoen at Monday’s meeting called for restructuring all of the department’s coverage through Assurance Partners of Salina. He told board members he identified that firm because it had developed the most comprehensive approach to reducing the number of health-related claims, and also because it would be more cost-efficient.

He said about 70 percent of the department’s injury-related problems occur during training or physical testing, rather than during actual on-duty situations, and said that Assurance Partners had been the only firm identified by departmental higher-ups that could structure a plan to reduce those types of injuries.

Assurance Group has provided workers comp and property insurance coverage for the department for several years. However the department’s health insurance and medical reimbursement plans have been handled through Keating and Associates. Schoen’s recommendation would have consolidated all those at Assurance Partners.

In a memo to the board sent out Monday morning, city manager Ron Fehr asked that they request the RFPs, and that’s what they did.

Law board member and city commissioner Rich Jankovich said Schoen’s proposal to consolidate health insurance-related services under Assurance Partners may be best, “but it’s not passing the transparency test.” Assistant city manager Lauren Palmer said requiring some sort of competitive process “is just smart.”

Schoen said his department heads felt that the fully researched the field of options before making the recommendation tat was considered Monday. What they were looking for, he said, was a firm offering both coverage and a means of controlling the types of injuries that those in high-stress, emergency service-related fields can be subject to, especially in training. “We found there really wasn’t anything out there,” he said. Assurance Partners, he said, was the one entity wiling to devise a comprehensive approach.

Some law board members wanted to delay action in order to research whether the RCPD proposal ought to be extended to agencies such as the Manhattan Fire Department. City commissioner and law board member Wynn Butler advocated exploring the idea of consolidating coverage for such agencies as part of the RFP process.

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