County health plan rate made surprise decrease

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After potentially pursuing a new outlet for health care coverage for Yellow Medicine County workers, the county board decided to stick with their SW/WC Service Cooperative plan – for now.
A committee was looking into and weighing the options of switching out of the SW/WC Co-op health plan in favor of a cheaper collaborative plan, but a 2.5 percent plan reduction offered for the 2015 fiscal year was too good to pass up.
While the reduction was welcomed, some other groups in the SW/WC Co-op saw reductions up to 15 percent. However, the board was wary to believe that reductions, especially of that magnitude, would happen a second year in a row.
“This is a one time gift, as far as I am aware,” County Administrator Peg Heglund said.
The verbally agreed upon plan was to stay with the Co-op one more year and spend the next year considering a switch to Collaborative coverage. No official action was needed or taken to stay onboard with SW/WC.
The board discussed the potential future of an improved wellness program that could offer services like cholesterol and blood pressure tests for much cheaper than a doctor’s visit as a way to reduce costs and hospital visits but keep health a priority.
“You can’t go to the doctor’s every time you have a sniffle,” board member Greg Renneke said.

Courthouse architect
When given the option to hire an architect or choose a handful of firms to interview for the architect of the new courthouse project, the board chose the latter, not wanting to rush into a decision without the chance to interview.
Since it is a professional service, the board did not need to choose the lowest bid automatically.
The board members picked their top two selections, and after it was tallied, it was decided that Wold and Architects and Engineers of St. Paul, Klien McCarthy Architects of St. Louis Park and BKV of Minneapolis would be interviewed as the architect, with Construction Manager Earl Fuechtmann present for the interviews.

In other news:
• The board approved a motion that would allow MVTV Wireless to have wireless access in three county parks.
MVTV developed the plan as demand for internet access has grown, including in areas typically focused on the outdoors and not social media. The tentative service plan would be one day, two day and monthly passes.
“[MVTV] thinks they will get customers, especially at Stone Hill,”  Yellow Medicine County IT Coordinator Dennis Peterson said. “They will rake in the money.”
Included in the motion was the condition that MVTV would have to pay for a new electricity box, if any needed to be installed.
• In light of a botched purchase at the YMC fairgrounds, there was a proposal for commissioners to be granted the ability to have purchasing power.
“Why can’t we be the same as department heads?” Commissioner Louis Sherlin said.
The motion would allow for the commissioners to have the ability to spend up to $5,000 in a purchasing policy that had no restrictions beyond the spending cap and the limits of imagination.
“I trust everyone here now as good stewards of $5,000, but we need to think of the future,” Commissioner John Berends said. “ It would be setting a precedent. We don’t know what kind of person the next commissioner could be.”
Peg Heglund pointed out even department heads had to come to the board for approval on spending money on projects.
Several board members also voiced their concern with the spending power the proposal would create.
“As a commissioner, I’m uncomfortable with that” Commissioner Ron Antony said.
As there wasn’t a second, the motion never went to a vote.