Gardner, schools differ on savings

County attorney estimates $1M savings for Medicare switch

— “I think school districts want to do something like this, so it is just a matter of trying to get it implemented,” he said. “Whether or not they can do it this budget season would take some quick action but it is within the realm of possibility. If not, then hopefully it could help (avoid) further problems down the line.”

Robert Hanlon, spokesman for Scotia-Glenville, said the district is looking into possible savings that could be achieved through Gardner’s proposal. Hanlon estimated the savings would fall around $30,000, though, a far cry from what Gardner had estimated. Hanlon said he doesn’t know where the county attorney is getting the number.

“We pay lower rates already, but this is one thing we are looking at,” he said.

Scotia-Glenville is part of a healthcare consortium with nine other school districts, so Hanlon said the district is achieving saving through the mass purchasing arrangement.

“We are part of a healthcare consortium so we can’t go out and do something on our own,” Hanlon said. “Through the consortium, we are saving a lot of money on these things.”

If the district did move forward with the proposal, Hanlon said the savings would be included in the 2012-13 budget.

Niskayuna School District officials also disagreed with the estimated $1 million savings, but said it is looking into getting firm figures before moving forward.

“We appreciate Mr. Gardner’s time and insight in this area, but our community should know that the district’s self-funded plan is extremely efficient,” Niskayuna Superintendent Susan Salvaggio said in a prepared statement. “We have found that there are no easy solutions to controlling healthcare costs, but that we can achieve real savings over time by looking diligently at all options.”

In 2010, the districted moved to a self-funded system, which has resulted in $400,000 to $500,000 savings annually. The district also began to directly contract for prescription coverage this year, which is estimated to save $125,000 next school year.

School officials have reached out to the district’s health insurance advisors to conduct a full review of savings possible through Medicare Advantage.

“If we determine the change will save us money, we will negotiate with our employee groups,” Salvaggio said in a statement. “First we have to have actual data that indicates a potential savings.”

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