Weston Select Board compares health care plans and bid results

WESTON, Vt. – Oct. 24, 2017 was a wet and balmy night. But it was business as usual at 12 Lawrence Hill Rd. in Weston. As folks got situated, there was an exchange about dehumidifiers, their tubs, and hoses – probably precipitated by the torrential rains pounding the roof and windows outside – before the meeting was called to order promptly at 7:40 p.m.

Chair Denis Benson started off with the potential issue that some townspeople of Weston had observed a threat to the town possibly losing its identity do to overregulation and, for lack of a better term, legal nitpicking. “Too many people are bringing their problems to the town instead of settling things amongst themselves like they used to,” commented Benson, alluding to a larger issue not brought to the forefront of the meeting.

With no hard examples and no public comment, Benson concluded by saying he would just like the other board members to consider the issue for a while so that they would revisit it in a future meeting.

The meeting then quickly picked up the pace, moving on the next item of the agenda: health care. Insurance fact comparison sheets were made available to board members. The town of Weston provides health insurance for many of its employees, and, in open discussion, it was established that the line expenditure for the administrative costs associated with this was $68,000. According to numbers from the town’s plan administrator, Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Vermont, the current coverage was set to increase approximately nine percent in the coming year. According to numbers from the administrator, MVP with Cigna and their own proprietary flavor of “health equity” to offset prescription and out-of-pocket costs submitted a bid for very similar coverage that would result in only approximately a one percent jump in the coming year.

One board member motioned to replace the existing BCBS coverage. A discussion ensued amongst the other board members and Charles Goodwin and Ann Fuji’i expressed concerns about prescriptions and appointments pre-approved by BCBS for this year. An amendment was then offered to say that MVP would be picked up in January pending an investigation into possible roadblock like prescriptions and pre-scheduled procedures.

There was an open discussion on a 17-acre plot that the town had decided to auction off. The winning offer was a $5,000 bid by Piper Hill Farm, LLC of Weston. Meanwhile, Fred Watkins was awarded the town garage roof repair bid at the cost of a little over $45,000.

There was also some debate over whether to bring a speed cart to town to deter speeders. With active comments from the public about a similar cart in Chester, Fuji’i begged the question, “Would we get any measurable results?”

The discussion went back and forth for a time and ranged from bringing to issue up at a town meeting to poll the public as to whether to the cart would be an eyesore. Ultimately there was no decision, and the matter was left on the table as the members moved into executive session.

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