Leftovers from Re-2 employee reimbursement plan to go elsewhere | PostIndependent.com

Leftovers from Re-2 employee reimbursement plan to go elsewhere

Re-2 employees to still receive steps and lanes bump, bonus, premium holiday

Typically if employees at the Garfield Re-2 school district opted out of one of the district’s health insurance plans, they’d receive a monthly incentive payment of $388.

Earlier this month, however, the school board voted to nix the $388 benefit, arguing it doesn’t adhere to rules put in place by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The district is essentially worried they’d encounter legal issues by paying more than $100 in benefits to each employee per month.

Right now, there are 74 “grandfathered in” employees in the district who are still receiving the $388 benefit. The elimination of the benefit is set to kick in by Dec. 31, 2021. The current HRP cost for the district is $389,106.

Under the Affordable Care Act, the district is required to allocate $663 toward any employee’s insurance plan. If an employee, however, opts out they still must enroll in the barebones Hospital Reimbursement Plan. For that plan, an employee only has to defray $275 a month, which leaves $388 on the table.

In other words, the grandfathered-in employee would be awarded the split difference of $388.

On April 28, some of these district employees expressed concern over the change with written letters.

“Decisions like these that affect me personally and my paycheck are hard to disregard and make you wonder if it’s time to start looking for another job somewhere else,” said Ellie Rodriguez, a district employee for more than 17 years.

Tara DeWitte, a district employee for 14 years, echoed Rodriguez’s thoughts.

“This feels like you’re taking money out of our pockets,” she said.

But, according to the district, plans to nix the benefit have been in discussion since 2018.

“This is a practice that is going on for a lot of years,” District spokesperson Theresa Hamilton said Friday. “This is a necessary change to bring us into compliance with all of the legal parameters we have to adhere to as a district, as a system.”

Meanwhile, earlier this month the board addressed two additional options for clipping the benefit. No action, however, was taken on these options.

One included cutting it by June 2021, while there was the option to wait until June 30, 2022.

But on Wednesday the board still approved three major financial bumps for their employees.

For the first two, all Re-2 employees will receive a $1,000 bonus while certified and classified employees will receive a 1.8% bump for staying with the district for an additional year. This bump is part of the district’s “steps and lanes” plan, which awards employees with bumps based on the number of years they work or if they receive further schooling.

Administrators, however, only receive a 1.5% bump in pay.

The board also approved a six-month premium holiday for any employees in a medical plan. This means, for the first six months of the 2021-2022 school year, whatever employees pay into their current health insurance plans, they get back for six consecutive months.

Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or rerku@postindependent.com

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