Update from Your President & Other News
Vaccination Status Letter and Possible Future Actions:
Several days ago, I was on an AFSCME President’s bi-monthly meeting with County Administrator David Hough where we discussed Covid Vaccinations process for Hennepin County employees. I know many of you have reached out to me with questions about when our front line staff in positions that are mandated to have face to face contact with the public might get vaccinated. Our AFSCME leadership has been pushing for information. Here is what I have learned so far. North Point employees and the Medical Examiner’s office employees have received their vaccines. Some in the Public Health Department who will be working as vaccinators have received their vaccine. In December, a request was sent from Hennepin County management Dan Rogan to Department Directors requesting they compile a list of which staff have job duties that put them at higher risk that they may fall into the 1a or 1b status for vaccination. Ryan Selock is working with the Dept heads or their designees to gather this list. (AFSCME has put in a request for this list if it exists yet). The County is laying out a plan to potentially provide a vaccination to those Hennepin County staff that fall into one of these higher prioritization categories. Please keep in mind MDH is the one who determines who fits into these categories and this may change at any time. It is currently my understanding from Administrator David Hough, that those HC staff who are in the 1a or 1b prioritization for vaccines, that the County will likely provide those staff with the Vaccine and you would be contacted directly to be informed that you are eligible and when and where to go get your vaccine. All of this depends on the supply of vaccine provided to the County. The State learns on Tuesdays how many Vaccine doses they are going to be allocated for the week and then the County learns on Thursdays how many the County will receive from the States’ allotment. It is also my understanding from Administrator David Hough that the majority of Hennepin County employees, who do not fall into a ‘high risk’ category based on job duties, will be receiving their vaccine from their Medical Health care provider when it is their turn based on MDH’s categorization.
I and the other AFSCME President’s pressed upon County Administrator David Hough, Public Health Director Susan Palchick, and Labor Relations Director Kathy Megarry the need for greater communication with Hennepin County staff about their plan even if it may be very fluid and change as MDH gives new guidance and direction and the allotment of Vaccine to Minnesota and Hennepin County may change. Some information is better than no information. They have assured us that more communication will be forthcoming.
I have also learned that many of the Public Health Nurses in the Human Services line of business are being vaccinated as they may be re-tasked to help with the vaccination clinics the County will be running for those vulnerable populations that are not able to obtain vaccine through another entity such as a primary care provider.
Please watch for greater communication from Hennepin County management about their plan/process for vaccination of staff that the County is able to vaccinate.
Thank you for all you do for our community and residents. Please stay safe and healthy.
Always in Solidarity,
Latonya T. Reeves. M.S, B.A
Career Probation Officer, Adult Probation Supervision Services-High Risk Traditional Supervision
Department of Community Corrections and Rehabilitation
Hennepin County Government Center – A800
300 South 6th St, MC 087
Minneapolis, MN 55487
Hennepin County Board Meeting Notes 9/10/2020 - Budget Proposals
This meeting brought forth County Administrator David Hough’s budget proposals that he will present to the board starting next week as well as the current budget climate and issues.
Hennepin County still has their 2021 AAA Credit Rating
Good position because of CARES Funding
CARES ACT FUNDING
$220 million needs to be used by December 30, 2020.
Approximately $183 million committed to spend
Approximately $38 million uncommitted.
2021 Proposed Budget
Reduction of 150 full time staff equivalents
Workforce-no increase in health insurance premiums
Mr. Hough is seeking layoff authority from the Commissioners. Will ask for this at the budget meeting next week.
Cancellation of leases
Reduced capital improvements programs
$12 million contingency budget
Significant use of fund balance.
Not in 2021 Budget
$35-40 million isolation and quarantine shelters
$5-10 million vaccination distribution
$3 million COVID testing and tracing
**If there are no additional funds for COVID, the county will need to solve the approximate $40 million budget deficit for next year.***
Looking at options for isolation and quarantine shelters for long term housing so that on January 1, if there are no additional funds, the county can continue to pay for housing in this area past that date.
Option: Purchase apartment building or the like. There would still be a budget shortfall in this area though.
Tools to Manage Unbudgeted Expenses
Health Insurance Premium Holiday-supported by Commissioner Opat-3rd quarter of next year is the proposal.
Mandatory SLWOP—16 to 20 hours (saves $4 million)—spread out over 26 pay periods. May be changes to vacation cash out.
FEMA or other federal/state grants
Additional use of fund balances
*David Hough will not recommend buyouts for employees as it does not save a significant amount of money.
Homeowner impact example—0% property tax increase. This means that in Minneapolis for example (medium value home $265,000 in 2020, $271,500 in 2021) net tax decrease of $7.2% and in the suburbs (medium value home $312,000 in 2020, $322,000 in 2021) 6.3% net tax decrease. This could be different for a higher or lower value home even at a 0% increase because other entities may add a percentage for a tax increase. Something to be mindful of. Different jurisdictions, different taxes.
Committee budget meetings next week.
Administrator amendments presented soon as well.
Hennepin County Board Meeting Notes 9/1/2020 - Health Care
The board approved the consensus recommendations from the Labor Management/Health Care Committee today at the Board Meeting.
The Board Action Request Language is as follows:
Board Action Request
Establish 2021 premium rates for self-insured health care program applicable to employees and retirees and their dependents; and coverage terms for 2021 to include items agreed upon as part of the labor management consensus process; and authorize the one-time use of $4.3 million in program reserves for funding employee flexible spending accounts for the purpose of defraying out-of-pocket medical expenses incurred during 2021
BE IT RESOLVED, that the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners hereby establish the 2021 health care program premiums for each plan; health care program coverage changes effective January 1, 2021; and funding of flexible spending account in 2021 for active employees covered by the health care program.
Health Care Program Premiums Determination Process
Premiums vary by plan and number/family relationship of covered persons;
Are actuarially determined by use of historical and current claims information, population risk factors and expected medical inflation;
Are highest for the Standard Plan that provides the broadest choice of providers but without the value-based care received from an Accountable Care Organization (i.e. the 3 Advantage Plans).
The results of the rate setting process are to keep premiums for each plan unchanged from 2020 to 2021 (this includes the projected impact of the health care plan coverage changes described below).
Health Care Plan Changes effective January 1, 2021:
All plan coverage terms to be amended as follows:
generic drug co-pay of $20 per prescription (2020: $25)
20% co-insurance on X-Ray/MRI procedures (2020: 25%)
out of pocket maximum $3000 individual coverage, $5000 family coverage (2020: $3500 / $5500)
office visit copay of $35 per visit ($20 with incentive) (2020: $40/$25)
urgent care copay of $50 per visit ($35 with incentive) (2020: $55/$40)
new virtual care office copay of $30 per session ($15 with incentive)
The above plan changes represent the consensus agreement of the Labor Management Health Care Committee.
Livongo - new program to be offered to all benefit-earning county employees and their dependents beginning January 1, 2021 – On average, members with unmanaged diabetes have medical claims six times higher than members without diabetes. Currently over 6% of the members covered by the county’s health plan are diabetic. Livongo offers diabetic members assistance in managing their condition. This opt-in program gives members a free glucose monitor with real time feedback, unlimited free test strips, personalized reports and 24/7 support and emergency outreach, providing them with the tools and support they need to stay healthy and avoid unnecessary and expensive hospital stays and complications.. The expected ROI of the program is 3.4:1.
Health Care Plan Participation:
Approximately 75.5% of employees are currently enrolled in one of the three Advantage plans:
33.8% are enrolled in Advantage HealthPartners/Park Nicollet;
25.2% are enrolled in Advantage M Health Fairview/North Memorial;
16.5% are enrolled in Advantage Hennepin Healthcare/ NorthPoint.
Approximately 24.5% of employees are currently enrolled in the Standard plan.
Flexible Spending Account (FSA) – Health Care Expense Account
Employees are currently eligible to contribute to a Flexible Spending Account with health care, dependent care, adoption assistance and pre-tax parking sub-accounts. This item introduces a one-time contribution of $4.3 million by the county from the health plan reserves to employees' health care expense accounts.
County contribution of $400 for employees with individual health care plan coverage and $700 for employees with family coverage
Contribution to be used, at employee discretion, for reimbursement of deductible medical, dental and visions expenses (e.g. deductible, copays and coinsurance)
County contribution is not taxable income to employee and may be carried over (subject to a $500 limit) for use the following year
Employees may also make before-tax contributions to the Health Care Expense Account, subject to a combined limit (employee and employer) of $2,750 for 2020, as indexed
For employees with family coverage, the county contribution will be split: $500 in 2021 and $200 in 2022, due to IRS limit of $500 for unconditional employer contributions
County contribution is one-time action intended to:
provide assistance to ensure employees and their dependents seek health care as needed during a period of extraordinary financial strife and stress; and
advance employee understanding of effective use of Health Care Expense Accounts to pre-fund expected out-of-pocket medical, dental and vision expenses with before-tax dollars, increasing their spending power and adding to financial security.
Thank you all to those who served on the LMHCC and participated in the Consensus Process. This was a really good deal for us this year—reducing copays and putting money into a flexible spending account for all of those who participate in HC health insurance---as a means to supplement health insurance costs. Let me know if you have any questions.
Commissioners Opat and Fernando as well as David Hough and Kathy McGerry recognized the union partners for their work on this process.
Hennepin County Board Meeting Notes 8/11/2020
Recognizing Juneteenth as a County Holiday.... Board Action Request 20-0267 R1 passed.....Juneteenth will now be considered as a floating holiday
Again, thank you to all who called your Commissioners in support of this, Vote 4-3
Board Action Request 20-0290
Funding approved to allocate 410k of CARES Act money to provide residents at the PSF, City Hall and the ACF telephone visits and video visitation as they have ceased in person visitation. This is a way to reduce barriers in connecting with loved ones.
Residents will receive three (3) free (up to 20 minutes) phone calls per week from August 17, 2020 until December 31, 2020 or the completed installation of the video visitation system at the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Public Safety Facility and City Hall, whichever is later.
•HCSO and DOCCR will pay 4.5 cents per minute for the 3 free phone calls.
•After December 31, 2020 or the completed installation of the video visitation system at the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Public Safety Facility and City Hall, whichever is later, the cost of a phone call for a resident is 14.0 cents per minute.
•DOCCR’s 2021 budget requests funding to cover the cost of 2 phone calls for residents at the ACF.
Additionally, this Amendment adds video visitation services at Hennepin County Sheriff’s Public Safety Facility and City Hall. In response to COVID-19, other emergency operations and 22,000 social visits annually at the Public Safety Facility (PSF) it became apparent how critical video visitation is at the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Public Safety Facility and City Hall.
Securus will provide the hardware, software and maintenance to support 47 video visitation units, that are mounted to the walls within the housing areas within the PSF, and three mobile units for the inmates to use. Friends and family members can use an application on their smart phone or their personal computer to conduct a video visitation session with the inmate. HCSO is evaluating the demand and cost of adding up to 13 units on-site for friends/family use.