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HomeNewsArchivesGovernment Insurance Panel Dismisses Gov's Criticism as 'Misinformation'

Government Insurance Panel Dismisses Gov's Criticism as 'Misinformation'

The Government Employees Service Commission issued a rebuttal Thursday against a charge by Gov. John deJongh Jr. that the commission’s Health Insurance Board panel was not doing its job.

Wednesday deJongh expressed his "disappointment" at what he called the panel’s inability to make a decision in the transition from CIGNA Insurance to United Health Care for 189 Medicare-eligible retirees over the age of 65 who are not enrolled in Medicare Part B. According to the governor, the board’s inaction had threatened the coverage of those 189 retirees.

In its response, the GESC Health Insurance Board of Trustees said none of the retirees were in any danger of losing coverage and dismissed the governor’s statement as "misinformation."

"No retiree will experience any lapse in insurance coverage as a result of the transition of the insurance coverage to United HealthCare," the commission’s statement said. "The board has taken every precaution to ensure that no lapses occur.” The board received notification prior to the governor’s press release that members without Medicare Part B would remain covered under the CIGNA plan through Nov. 30, the statement said.

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The board was aware that special arrangements were necessary on a temporary basis for retirees older than 65 years who have not yet enrolled in Medicare Part B, according to the statement.

"The board did not depend on the Division of Personnel to advise it of these circumstances,” the statement said, adding that “while Part B was not mandatory under the previous plan, it was assumed by the carrier (CIGNA) that all eligible retirees had Medicare Part B and claims were paid accordingly."

The GESC said that starting Dec. 1 the 189 retirees without Medicare Part B will have the choice of enrolling in either a low-cost United Health Care prescription drug only plan or a UHC “Senior Supplement Plan” that covers prescription drugs and medical expenses normally covered under Medicare Part B.

The commission’s statement said the insurance company, United Health Care, will soon contact in writing each of the 189 post-65 retirees who have not yet enrolled in Medicare Part B to advise them of their coverage options after Oct. 31. Further, it said, the GESC Board has already held public meetings on each island during September to explain to retirees how their coverage will change.

The statement raised concern over the motives for the governor’s criticism.

"The members of the board are becoming increasingly concerned about attempts by the Governor’s Office and the Director of Personnel to discredit the GESC Health Insurance Board and to undermine its independence and authority," the statement said. "Examples of recent inappropriate intrusions by the administration and the Division of Personnel include attempts to coerce the board into selecting an insurance broker hand-selected by the administration without going through the proper bid solicitation and evaluation processes.”

The commission also accused the Division of Personnel of failing to maintain a roster of all government employees that includes the class title of the position held, the compensation and other data, including the enrollment of employees in the Group Health Insurance Program.

"Several times over the past years the board has become aware of alarming discrepancies in the headcounts being reported by the Division of Personnel to CIGNA. The division’s inability to maintain accurate eligibility data has resulted in the government expending millions of dollars in unnecessary premium payments to the insurers. Similarly, the poor maintenance of eligibility data compromised the ability of the Board to transition to the more cost-effective UHC plans in a timely manner," the commission said.

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