News From Terre Haute, Indiana

February 7, 2013

Health clinic for city among Bennett’s top agenda items

Howard Greninger
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Establishing an employee health clinic and implementing a spousal “carve out” on insurance are measures the city of Terre Haute plans to implement this year to reduce future health care costs, Mayor Duke Bennett said Wednesday during a state of the city address.

“Almost 95 percent of all the other major employers in the community have done a spousal carve out. Beginning July 1st, we will have a spousal carve out … to reduce our overall expenses in health care,” Bennett said during his address at the Vigo County Public Library.

The mayor, after his public address, said the city could reduce the number it insures by at least 20 people. The city has about 600 employees insured, which numbers about 1,200 people when family members are included. The carve out removes any spouse of a city employee whose employer also offers insurance.

Vigo County Commissioners in December 2009, effective in January 2010, initiated a carve-out provision. The number of people in the county’s insurance plan dropped 7 percent from 2010 to 2011, from 844 members to 785 members. The total paid for all county claims dropped 1.9 percent and medical claims decreased 3.8 percent after the spousal carve out.

The mayor said the city has a cash balance for its insurance budget, allowing it to pursue a health clinic, which could cost at least $200,000 in the first year.

Bennett said the city will seek bids on providing an employee health clinic, which includes considering a health clinic already operated by Vigo County government.

“That would be a good scenario and I like the county model, but we have to put it out to bid, which we will do over the next couple of months,” the mayor said.

“My goal would be to break even in the first year from what we have to pay out and as you get more people to use it, you have savings in year two,” the mayor said. “The school corporation is in the $600,000 range of savings after it was fully implemented and they have about three times as many people than we do,” the mayor said after his public address.

Some city projects for 2013 include:

• Resurfacing Wabash Avenue from 25th Street to Brown Avenue. This section will be paid from the city’s portion of the county Economic Development Income Tax, costing an estimated $600,000 to $700,000.

• Removing the former Toney Petroleum building along Third Street near the northwest corner of Indiana State University’s campus. The university, when clean up is completed, will use the site for parking.

• Enhancing Third Street with plantings, painting of light poles and installing new curbs/sidewalks from Cherry Street to Poplar Street.

• Implementing Wastewater Treatment Plant phase II, a $105 million project that revamps the plant and includes combined sewer overflow projects of adding an overflow lagoon near Interstate 70 and floatable controls on Hulman and Spruce streets. It is being funded from higher sewer bills.

• Acquiring property along Margaret Avenue from 7th Street to 14th Street for second phase of Margaret Avenue project. Funding is set aside to start construction in 2014. Begin design on phase from 14th Street to 25th Street, which includes an overpass.