The Vinton City Council learned on Thursday, March 27, that they have exactly four days and three months to find a new health plan for city employees.

Because of changes in the Blue Cross plan, the city policies no longer meet the Affordable Care Act guidelines; the insurer notified the city recently that the plan serving city employees and their dependents will be canceled July 1.

Interim City Coordinator Jeff Horne suggested that Mayor John Watson and others form a committee to begin considering other options.

“Tell your broker you want to see a wide range of options,” said Horne.

Council member Dave Redlinger suggested contacting broker Bob Moen for updates on available Blue Cross plans, but also said the council should look at many options from many companies.

Horne reminded the council that the employment plans are covered by union agreements, and not offering a plan after July 1 would constitute a breach of contract.

Council members plan to review a variety of options, including funding Health Savings Accounts for employees as well as possibly providing a set stipend benefit with which the employees could purchase a private plan.

“Sit down with the unions now to let them know changes are coming,” said Horne. “The goal is to provide a sustainable benefit for employees.”

City Coordinator search continues

Horne plans to continue serving as interim city coordinator through June 1, the date that the council hopes to have a permanent coordinator hired. The council’s Government Committee met with a representative from its search firm before the council meeting. The deadline for applications is April 11. So far, 21 people have applied.

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