AMA ESD discusses insurance changes

ALPENA – The Alpena-Montmorency-Alcona Educational Service District Board of Education discussed increased insurance policies due to the Affordable Health Care Act coming into effect in January 2014, at its meeting on Thursday.

Superintendent Brain Wilmot proposed a memorandum to the board stating that the AMA ESD will cover these new costs for the monthly premiums of February through June 2014 for professional staff, paraprofessional staff and support staff groups.

“They are already paying $1,600 per year, that doesn’t include any office calls or anything. This would increase it to $2,600 per year,” Assistant Superintendent Tony Suszek said. “We just thought, in good faith, we would work with the staff in the next few months to pick that cost up.”

The Affordable Health Care Act requires that new taxes and fees are collected on health insurance premiums beginning in January, and because master agreements with the AMA ESD’s employee groups limit what the board pays toward employee health care premiums, employees are contractually responsible for these new taxes and fees. For employees with full family coverage, these new taxes and fees are approximately $87 per month on top of what they are already paying for health insurance. The cost increase for a single person would be about $29 per month and a two person is a $70 increase per month.

“Whole families are of three or more,” Suszek said. “The Affordable Care Act increased taxes and fees starting in January by 6 percent. We just asked the board to pick up those costs for five months, February through June, and then we’ll negotiate that the staff pay for those. We just didn’t want them to be caught off guard with that type of a burden, which was in some cases $87 a month.”

During the meeting, Wilmot said he wanted to give employees a chance to plan for these changes and budget accordingly, which was the reason he suggested the AMA ESD pick up these premiums until the end of the fiscal year.

“We’re going to have negotiations with professional groups, but I believe the other groups are going to want to look at it too,” Wilmot said. “It would take board action to allow this because it is contractual and I cannot unilaterally change the contract. It has to be by action of the board.”

The full board approved Wilmot sign memoranda for the groups involved, and allow the AMA ESD to cover the premiums through June.

“This will cost the board $3,760 per month, and for the five months it will be about $19,000,” Suszek said. “Some will come from the special education fund, and some will come out of the general fund. We’ll have to come up with that, and might have to cut back on some other areas. We did have some staff retire, so we’ll have a number of cost savings there, and that will help to pick up these costs.”

Nicole Grulke can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5687. Follow Nicole on Twitter @ng_alpenanews.