Supervisors meet following Christmas holiday to address a shortened agenda including the consideration of changing the County employee health plan

by Joe Moses

The Allamakee County Board of Supervisors met in regular session Wednesday, December 27 to address a short agenda of matters following the closure of the County Courthouse December 25 and 26 for the observance of the Christmas holiday. The meeting was called to order by Board of Supervisors Chairperson Dan Byrnes with Supervisors Mark Reiser and Dennis Keatley present.

Byrnes noted that both of the 9:40 a.m. agenda items are being removed from the current meeting agenda and may be considered at a future Supervisors meeting. The removed agenda items included discussion of amending the County Relief Ordinance and consideration of setting a public hearing for the amendment to the County Relief Ordinance.

At the Monday, December 11 Supervisors Meeting during Public Comment, Director/General Manager Craig Lensing of Martin-Grau Funeral Home had discussed the $1,200 benefit through the County Relief Office for estates with less than $1,000 available for funeral expenses. At that December 11 meeting, Lensing made note of other northeast Iowa counties that allow families to add to this funding for final expenses with Allamakee County not allowing this practice relating to estates receiving this low-income benefit. At that time, Lensing had requested that the Supervisors consider changing the ordinance or bylaw restricting families from contributing to final expenses for estates receiving this benefit.

There was no Public Comment during the time allotted for that agenda item with the meeting moving into the discussion and consideration of the Health Insurance Committee recommendation for the Fiscal-Year 2024 (FY24) change. Allamakee County Engineer Brian Ridenour noted that the Health Insurance Committee had recently met with discussion of the Heritage Select plan through United Health Care, the current health coverage plan for County employees, taking place. Ridenour advised that concerns were raised due to providers being coded as out-of-network in error under the current plan with United Health Care being aware of this coding and information technology (IT) issue. Ridenour elaborated that as a result of these issues, employees have been billed more than they should with correcting these billing mistakes being a slow process.

Ridenour advised that the Health Insurance Committee has voted to change the County employee health plan to Choice Plus through United Health Care with First Deputy Auditor Janel Eglseder noting that the Choice Plus health plan was recently updated to allow the partially self-funded option, matching the County’s requirements. Allamakee County Environmental Health Director Laurie Moody further discussed the IT and coding issues in place with the Heritage Select plan which have not yet been resolved with her recommendation for plan participants, if impacted by these billing issues, to start a payment plan to stop the collections process until these coding issues are resolved by United Health Care.

Byrnes advised that the Health Insurance Committee will meet prior to the July 1, 2024 policy renewal to review and evaluate plans and options available. Byrnes and Keatley noted the work and research performed by Eglseder in reviewing this matter. Following discussion, the Supervisors approved the Health Insurance Committee’s recommendation for the FY24 change to Choice Plus with United Health Care.

Under Department Head Updates, Allamakee County Solid Waste Manager Dave Mooney provided an update relating to his department noting that the County Waste and Recycling Center had a busy day December 26 following the Christmas holiday.

Environmental Health Director Laurie Moody provided a brief update, with County Engineer Brian Ridenour discussing the phone system upgrade taking place and his research relating to Secondary Road Department wages in other counties in anticipation of union negotiations.

Prior to adjournment, Beyer advised that she is finishing up valuations this week with that information then to be submitted to the State. Beyer provided a recommendation to meet for a work session next week. She noted that the Supervisors will be meeting Tuesday, January 2 following the Monday, January 1 closure of the County Courthouse for the observance of the New Year’s Day holiday. Beyer further noted that Martin Luther King Jr. Day is Monday, January 15 with the County Courthouse closed in observance of the holiday with the Supervisors meeting scheduled that week for Tuesday, January 16.