Instead of choosing to bully the South Dakota High School Activities Association, the organization that makes possible all those state tournaments everyone loves to attend and whose recent audit problems showed no apparent cost to taxpayers, perhaps the Legislature should have dedicated one of its summer studies to the Associated School Boards of South Dakota, whose flawed health insurance plan has put several school districts on the hook for millions of dollars:
Harrisburg and 58 other districts in the self-funded insurance pool managed by the Associated School Boards of South Dakota faced a financial shortfall of nearly $10 million. Counting claims not yet processed — known in insurance lingo as “the tail” — the total liability for the protective trust that uses Avera Health as a vendor is estimated at $14 million.
School districts planning to leave the pool would be responsible for their share of the debt, putting taxpayers in the line of fire. For Harrisburg and other area schools such as Canistota, Canton, Dell Rapids, Mitchell and Sioux Valley, that reality arrived like a smack in the face [Stu Whitney, “Schools Outraged over Health Plan Debt,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2015.05.01].
How’d ASBSD dig this hole for local school districts? By not telling them what was happening:
Critics point to a lack of transparency and faulty governance of the trust on the part of the Associated School Boards of South Dakota, which failed to effectively address the shortfall or alert members to the severity of the problem.
Members were charged more for going to “out of network” providers, and the cost of those claims exceeded the amount of premiums coming in. The hole grew deeper despite the fact that most school districts had no idea what was happening [Whitney, 2015.05.01].
The Legislature does have one more summer study slot to fill. If they’re worried about issues of real import to taxpayers, they could still do an inquiry on health coverage for K-12 school employees by the Associated School Boards and every other insurer. Then again, if the Legislature would simply expand Medicaid, you could probably put some starting teachers who have a spouse and two kids on Uncle Sam’s tab. (Medicare for everyone would be so much simpler and less costly, wouldn’t you agree, school business managers?)