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Health plan changes to take effect Feb. 1

By Times staff writers

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 18, 2001


The School Board approved a midyear adjustment to its employee health insurance benefits Tuesday night, a move expected to generate $559,000 in savings for its struggling health program.

The changes will not affect the co-payments for doctor visits or prescription drugs. But, starting Feb. 1, people on the plan will have to pay $500 of their own money before coverage kicks in for expenses such as emergency room visits or lab tests.

Even for those benefits, people on the plan will have to pay $10 for every $90 paid by the district -- which is its own insurance provider -- beyond the $500 deductible. Also, the limit on how much employees must pay from their own pockets was raised from $1,000 per person to $3,000 per person.

For employees with three or more family members on the plan, the new out-of-pocket limit means that, including co-payments, a family could be forced to pay up to $10,500 a year. That would occur only in rare scenarios where three or more family members suffer catastrophic illnesses in the same year. But it is possible.

The changes were needed to make the program self-sufficient for the year that ends Aug. 31. Last year, the district's health plan ran a $1.7-million deficit. Additional costly changes are likely in the fall to help recoup that deficit.

Board approves name for new high school

The name of Hernando County's fourth high school, due to open in 2003, will be Nature Coast Technical High School.

The School Board approved the name Tuesday night. The "Nature Coast" theme came from a committee of parents, teachers and students. The School Board added the word "Technical" to remind the public about the school's emphasis on vocational and technical programs.

The school, to be built on California Street just north of the Hernando County Airport, will be paid for with a combination of revenue from the Florida lottery and a half-cent sales tax that Hernando County voters approved in 1998.

The two-story school is expected to cost at least $34-million.

District ends dispute over impact fee credits

Looking a costly lawsuit in the face, the School Board agreed Tuesday to end a dispute with Elviretta Corp. by giving the development company a $130,000 impact fee credit for land it "donated" to the school district in 1983.

Elviretta originally asked for $520,000 in impact fee credits, while the School Board proposed an $80,000 credit. The board agreed to $130,000, the amount cited in a certified appraisal acquired by Elviretta as what the land was worth in 1983 dollars.

In 1983, Elviretta made 20 acres at Barclay Avenue and Powell Road available to the district as a legally mandated compensation for its plans to build a new subdivision that ultimately would add to school enrollments. The land is now home to Powell Middle School.

School Board attorney Karen Gaffney said Elviretta is entitled to the impact fee credits under current state laws. Continuing to dispute the amount likely would result in a losing lawsuit and considerable costs, she said.

The fee waiver will not require the school district to pay money. But it means the district will be deprived of $130,000 in payments it otherwise would have received.

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