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Thursday, August 11, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesCENTENO EXPECTS $1 MILLION INSURANCE REFUND

CENTENO EXPECTS $1 MILLION INSURANCE REFUND

The head of the Government Employees Health Insurance Board of Trustees, Juan Centeno, told the Senate Finance Committee Wednesday that he expects a $1 million refund from Blue Cross and Blue Shield.
Centeno, former Finance commissioner, also questioned the performance of QCC Insurance Co. of Philadelphia, a subsidiary of Blue Cross that signed on as the new V.I. government health-insurance provider in 1998.
He said the number of complaints coming into the insurance board led him to suspect QCC was delivering service at under the 95 percent performance rate required by their contract.
Centeno said since the new insurance carrier came on board, health insurance administrators and a private consultant have been monitoring the amount of service delivered to government employees, retirees and their dependents.
"We have, however, taken monthly figures that we have been paying out up until now and we have derived a savings of over $1 million, which we have put Blue Cross/Blue Shield on notice that we are expecting accountability of the $1 million as being unspent and expected by the territory to be refunded," he said.
Sen. George Goodwin expressed concern about an apparent discrepancy in the number of people currently covered by QCC. The difference between Centeno's figures and those from a separate analysis left more than 1,000 eligible people unaccounted for.
Sen. Anne Golden said whether there were 8,400 government employees covered under the health insurance contract or 9,706 as stated elsewhere, both figures fell short of the 12,000 employees reported on the government payroll.
Committee Chairwoman Lorraine Berry also asked Centeno to provide information on 1,936 Notices of Personnel Action activated since Gov. Charles W. Turnbull took office in January.
"We want to prepare a position supplement that includes every position, every title, every salary, in every division so we will be able to know where the changes are taking place and how it impacts on the overall budget crisis that we have," Berry said.
The board chairman reminded the committee that the current health insurance contract expires at the end of calendar year 1999 and given the assessment of QCC's performance so far, he may recommend a re-negotiated contract if not a new insurance carrier.
Those contract talks, he said, may impact the spending plan now being put together.
Meanwhile as she defended her FY 2000 budget, Chief Negotiator Karen Andrews reinforced sentiments expressed earlier this week by members of the Finance Committee that poor management was costing the government heavily.
Andrews told the panel her agency was doing what it could to make sure agency heads are cognizant of standard labor-management practices. Although it is not required to do so, she said, it's one way to keep the government out of court on charges of unfair labor practices.
And although the government is pressed for cash, Andrews said she could not promise to keep wage issues off the negotiating table with unions representing government workers.
Golden asked if contract negotiations could be limited to working conditions and other non-monetary issues.
"In terms of the law, we have to negotiate in good faith," Andrews said. "We are required to go back to the table. We develop our posture, our proposal. The unions develop theirs. I cannot say that we will not go back and exclude negotiations for wages but clearly, as I have indicated, we will not settle for what we cannot afford."
In the afternoon session, officials of V.I. Public Television System presented lawmakers with a national campaign to put all public television systems on state-of-the-art digital technology.
Executive Director Lori Elskoe told lawmakers she was seeking $2.2 million from the V.I. government. Federal funds now cover almost 90 percent of the operating expenses for WTJX-Channel 12, she said.
"By 2003 all public television stations must convert to digital. We do not have a choice. It is a federal mandate set forth by the Federal Communications Commission," Elskoe said.

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The head of the Government Employees Health Insurance Board of Trustees, Juan Centeno, told the Senate Finance Committee Wednesday that he expects a $1 million refund from Blue Cross and Blue Shield.
Centeno, former Finance commissioner, also questioned the performance of QCC Insurance Co. of Philadelphia, a subsidiary of Blue Cross that signed on as the new V.I. government health-insurance provider in 1998.
He said the number of complaints coming into the insurance board led him to suspect QCC was delivering service at under the 95 percent performance rate required by their contract.
Centeno said since the new insurance carrier came on board, health insurance administrators and a private consultant have been monitoring the amount of service delivered to government employees, retirees and their dependents.
"We have, however, taken monthly figures that we have been paying out up until now and we have derived a savings of over $1 million, which we have put Blue Cross/Blue Shield on notice that we are expecting accountability of the $1 million as being unspent and expected by the territory to be refunded," he said.
Sen. George Goodwin expressed concern about an apparent discrepancy in the number of people currently covered by QCC. The difference between Centeno's figures and those from a separate analysis left more than 1,000 eligible people unaccounted for.
Sen. Anne Golden said whether there were 8,400 government employees covered under the health insurance contract or 9,706 as stated elsewhere, both figures fell short of the 12,000 employees reported on the government payroll.
Committee Chairwoman Lorraine Berry also asked Centeno to provide information on 1,936 Notices of Personnel Action activated since Gov. Charles W. Turnbull took office in January.
"We want to prepare a position supplement that includes every position, every title, every salary, in every division so we will be able to know where the changes are taking place and how it impacts on the overall budget crisis that we have," Berry said.
The board chairman reminded the committee that the current health insurance contract expires at the end of calendar year 1999 and given the assessment of QCC's performance so far, he may recommend a re-negotiated contract if not a new insurance carrier.
Those contract talks, he said, may impact the spending plan now being put together.
Meanwhile as she defended her FY 2000 budget, Chief Negotiator Karen Andrews reinforced sentiments expressed earlier this week by members of the Finance Committee that poor management was costing the government heavily.
Andrews told the panel her agency was doing what it could to make sure agency heads are cognizant of standard labor-management practices. Although it is not required to do so, she said, it's one way to keep the government out of court on charges of unfair labor practices.
And although the government is pressed for cash, Andrews said she could not promise to keep wage issues off the negotiating table with unions representing government workers.
Golden asked if contract negotiations could be limited to working conditions and other non-monetary issues.
"In terms of the law, we have to negotiate in good faith," Andrews said. "We are required to go back to the table. We develop our posture, our proposal. The unions develop theirs. I cannot say that we will not go back and exclude negotiations for wages but clearly, as I have indicated, we will not settle for what we cannot afford."
In the afternoon session, officials of V.I. Public Television System presented lawmakers with a national campaign to put all public television systems on state-of-the-art digital technology.
Executive Director Lori Elskoe told lawmakers she was seeking $2.2 million from the V.I. government. Federal funds now cover almost 90 percent of the operating expenses for WTJX-Channel 12, she said.
"By 2003 all public television stations must convert to digital. We do not have a choice. It is a federal mandate set forth by the Federal Communications Commission," Elskoe said.