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County considers consolidating health insurance

August 10, 2000

County considers consolidating health insurance



In an attempt to save money, the Washington County Commissioners are considering consolidating health insurance providers for county employees, including workers in the public schools and at Hagerstown Community College.

The commissioners and the School Board discussed hiring a consultant to study the possible move at a joint meeting Tuesday afternoon at the board's central office on Commonwealth Avenue.

A final decision has not been made and the commissioners are in the preliminary stages of the discussion, they said. They also said the study could find consolidation to be a bad idea.

The School Board's recently passed fiscal 2001 budget contained an increase of $963,466 for health insurance premiums, a 13 percent increase, according to board documents.

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Schools Superintendent Herman Bartlett worried the public discussion about health insurance consolidation would harm the relationship between the School Board and its employees.

"We've been working with employees and labor unions trying to make adjustments. We've made some agreements with people about those adjustments and said we'd be forthright with them," Bartlett said. "If this hits the paper, they're going to feel like we haven't discussed this with them. We need some time to go to our employees and talk things through."

The commissioners said they've brought up the possible consolidation in the past and are not trying to hide anything.

"I understand, but we've talked about this before," Commissioners President Greg Snook said. "I don't think it's any big secret. Our intent is not to put pressure on any group, it's just to see what an outside body says."

- Tara Reilly

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