Mayor addresses ongoing battle over city employee health insurance

Published: Sep. 9, 2022 at 9:00 AM CDT
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - It has been a confusing week of back and forth about what health insurance plans for city employees and retirees will look like in 2023. Shreveport’s mayor weighed in Friday morning regarding the ongoing debate.

A special meeting of the Healthcare Trust Fund Board was held Wednesday afternoon.

MORE>>> Dozens gather for special meeting regarding Shreveport’s healthcare insurance for 2023

Mayor Adrian Perkins began the meeting by praising city employees for continuing to work through rain, sleet, snow, a pandemic, and more. The mayor said they shouldn’t have to worry when they get sick about how they’re going to pay for care.

It was reiterated several times that nobody’s benefits will be reduced, and that employees who select the first tier of the plan will see slightly lower healthcare costs. The mayor said employees who choose to see Willis-Knighton Health System providers will see no increased costs.

The tiered option plan, he says, is designed to give employees and retirees a choice in their healthcare.

City employees/retirees currently pay around $200 per month for their health insurance, the mayor said. The city’s current ordinance would approximately double that, he said.

Mayor Perkins said year after year, the city continues to pay more to avoid passing rising healthcare costs on to their employees and retirees, but that simply isn’t sustainable.

At Friday morning’s news conference, the mayor said the Healthcare Trust Fund Board voted 4-3 (with one person abstaining) to reject the three-tier plan. He said the board must now look for the best option.

The issue now heads to the city council, where there could be a 3-3 deadlock in the vote if Councilman Jerry Bowman abstains. The mayor said he hopes city council members have city employees’ best interests at heart.

The mayor also addressed a couple of photos that have been circulating social media that appear to show him sleeping at Wednesday afternoon’s meeting. The mayor vehemently denied being asleep, and called the accusations “ridiculous.”

”That’s absurd. There was a dozen cameras in the room. Show me a video of me falling asleep. If somebody is taking 100 pictures and you’re sitting in a three hour meeting, you’re going to catch somebody with their eyes blinking, closed, whatever. But I was not asleep in that Healthcare Trust Fund Board Meeting,” he said.

“Let them continue to play games and we’ll continue to do our jobs,” the mayor continued.

When asked if they had anything to add, the city’s fire and police chiefs, Clarence Reese and Wayne Smith, said they echoed the mayor’s statements.