Cliff Peale reports:
Nearly 1,000 employees on the Mason City Schools health plan will see that change March 1 as the district abandons the controversial TrueCost plan.
After a meeting Thursday evening with leaders of the Mason Education Association teachers’ union, the district agreed to go back to last year’s more traditional plan through HealthSpan, union leaders said.
Teachers had filed grievances after having trouble getting care because of TrueCost, which Mason schools imposed starting Jan. 1.
The plan sets payment at Medicare rates plus 40 percent. It has sparked a standoff between hospitals, who say they didn’t negotiate the payments and won’t honor the plan, and employers desperate to tamp down their own health care costs.
“It clearly did not work,” said Karrie Strickland, president of the union that represents 640 teachers. “Now our health care is back. We’ll be able to have access to care and medications and the things that our members need. We feel like this getting our contract back as well.”
Mason officials said employee health care is about 15 percent of the district’s budget, or about $15 million a year.
“We think the TrueCost health plan is an innovative idea whose time has come, but were disappointed with how the process played out with area providers,” Superintendent Gail Kist-Kline said in a statement this morning.