Please accept this as an article for the “Another Voice” column.
The recent issue of a cosmetic surgery rider that is provided to the Board and City unions and in other School Districts and municipalities, raised by publicity seeking board member Jacobs, needs to have the record set straight.
• The language in the BTF contract states “cosmetic surgery which is required and necessary as determined by the insured’s physician”. How, therefore, can there be teacher abuse as Mr. Jacobs infers?
• Based upon information apparently circulated by Mr. Jacobs that he did not choose to highlight, as it apparently did not fit his political purpose, the cost for cosmetic procedures skyrocketed from $370 a procedure in 2004 to $798 in 2010. That increase more than the increase in utilization is the reason for the sharp increase in costs.
• In the 1970’s the rider was a small cost item included in the health insurance policies until 1996 when the District went to self-insurance. Since 2006, when the District went to a single carrier, it has chosen to self-insure for the rider.
• Why are teachers are being castigated and singled out for a benefit that the Board agreed to provide?
• Teachers are not indentured servants. They are paid for providing a service under conditions few can comprehend. Just as when you pay a contractor who then purchases health insurance, you have no right to control how the contractor or in this case a teacher uses his/her salary or benefits just because it’s taxpayer’s money.
• The BTF for the six years it has been in negotiations with the District for a new contract has consistently and publicly stated our willingness to eliminate the rider. Once a new contract is reached the rider will be eliminated.
• Only a tiny fraction of teachers use the rider.
• Mr. Jacobs states in his letter that he obtained the cosmetic surgery rider information from a member of the Control Board’s staff. The Control Board denies it. Apparently someone is lying.
What a noble undertaking. Hopefully, this clarifies some of the issues. I would, however; like to thank Mr. Jacobs for his assistance in our negotiations as he has brought to light just how much costs have increased (now $6 - $9 million) since we began negotiations and how much we will save the District by agreeing to drop the rider.