Updated January 13, 2022 - 9:12 am
A new health insurance agreement with THT Health aims to give Clark County teachers something they have never had — a safety net.
THT Health was established as a non-profit trust in 1983 to give teachers a chance to run their own health care system. The nonprofit operation is overseen by the teachers union, the Clark County Education Association.
The teachers trust must abide by a series of financial reporting rules and positive cash flow obligations or it can be dissolved, according to the agreement signed in October.
In return, the school district said it is contributing an estimated $23 million worth of premium increases over the next two years, plus a onetime $15 million cash infusion. The trust estimates the district’s premium increases will provide it with an additional $20 million.
The first $5 million of the cash infusion must be used to bring relief to educators fending off collection agencies because of the trust’s failure to pay its share of their medical bills. New CEO Tom Zumtobel said the trust, so far, has only identified 44 educators who have been contacted by collection agencies and is working hard with a law firm to resolve those debts and clean up the educators’ financial records.
The agreement for the first time requires the health trust to conduct its business in the open so teachers and the public can finally see how well it is performing. It must provide the district with monthly and annual financial reports, and monthly statements on payments for medical claims. It also must submit reports tracking cash flow expenses and health care plan changes.
“The transparency and the partnership is what I feel the best about, because it requires all of us to get there,” Trust CEO Tom Zumtobel said. “And the agreement actually has us on regular dialogue.”
“I think as much as anything the problem in the past is the (trust’s) leaders weren’t transparent with the School District and weren’t transparent with the CCEA.”
The school district’s former chief negotiator, Fikisha Miller, made it clear at a Clark County School Board meeting in October that the teachers trust has no choice but to be transparent this time.
“Not only is there public accountability,” Miller told the board, “there is teeth in this agreement that if the THT does not take care of its business, just taking care of our teachers, the THT is gone — once and for all.”
If the trust doesn’t meet some of the agreement’s requirements, it can be held in “major default,” and if it accumulates three major defaults within a year, it must close its doors and transition to a school district universal health plan, the agreement states.
THT Health also has agreed to resolve all of its unpaid medical claims, $34 million, by June 30, 2022, and pay back a recent $35 million advance the district provided by the end of June 2024.
Another provision forces THT Health to make a public presentation to the school board detailing the state of the trust within 90 days of filing an annual audit report at the end of December each year.
CCEA Executive Director John Vellardita said the trust is up to the challenges in the new deal.
“I think it’s a very fair requirement on the Teachers Health Trust part, to comply with these conditions,” he said. “And because they’re public dollars, and they’ve got to be used for what they’re intended, and the trust needs to do what it’s supposed to do. And that’s to provide health care for educators, at the same time, trying to essentially clean up the mess that occurred.”
School Board President Linda Cavazos said she hopes the agreement sets up THT Health for success.
“There are very tough but fair guardrails in place to show that they (the health trust) can be accountable and also take care of the teachers, because that’s what the end game is,” she said. “We want them to be successful.”