Parish President Jimmy Cantrelle’s choice of employee health coverage for next year has become the source of heavy criticism as the Lafourche Parish Council voted against him in consecutive meetings.
On October 11, the council said no to Cantrelle’s decision to use Gulf South Risk Services for parish health coverage in 2017 because many employees were opposed to changing policies.
Again on October 25, the council voted unanimously against a second attempt by Cantrelle to pass a resolution accepting Gulf South.
Several council members voiced their concerns about inadequate information regarding the proposed new insurer as well as Cantrelle’s method of garnering approval.
After the first defeat of his proposal earlier in the month, Cantrelle ran a personal ad on radio, TV, and Facebook seeking to get approval of his choice of Gulf South and his belief that the no-vote on Oct. 11 was “politically motivated”.
District 2 Councilwoman Luci Sposito took exception to the ad.
“In his ad he made it look like we voted against a 67 cent increase on individual insurance. That’s a blatant lie!” she said.
Sposito said Cantrelle’s ad also implied that a formal request was done by bid and that “the establishment is fighting it because of politics”.
“Not true!” said Sposito.
Sposito spoke for about ten minutes listing many things she didn’t like about the new coverage, including Cantrelle’s assertion that it was a “best case scenario.”
“I would like more estimates and data,” she said.
Sposito went on to say that she was extremely disappointed in the ad, having thus far been part of a council which was “overwhelmingly supportive” of Cantrell.
“I believe that Mr. Jimmy was completely sold by a very good insurance salesman and that he totally believed his choice was right. But this was the only plan considered because of the savings. I had more faith in you (Cantrelle) than that,” concluded Sposito.
Employees are now covered through Gallagher Insurance of Thibodaux. Gulf South, located in Houma, would provide the same coverage.
Cantrelle responded that he has been working “very hard” for the public and the council and that cost saving is of vital importance in the months ahead.
“I firmly believe this is the best plan. If we’re not trying to save money right now, we won’t be here next year because we won’t have the money to do anything,” he said.
Councilman Jerry Lafont called the ad a “cartoon” and Cantrelle a “dictator.”
“You need to look at other ways to save money instead of ruining peoples’ lives,” he said.
Bo Melvin explained that he attempted to get more information about insurance coverage but the Home Rule Charter forbids talking to any contractor, including insurance agents, without permission.
When he asked Cantrelle for permission, Melvin said he was denied.
“How can we get information to help parish employees? Why do I need permission to talk to health insurance persons about my own insurance policy?” asked Melvin.
Tuesday’s agenda included four resolutions regarding insurance coverage.
Although the medical insurance choice was vote down, coverage for dental and vision benefits passed.
Also, Cantrelle’s choice for Employee Assistance coverage also passed.
But another measure, his resolution for approval of a new supplemental insurance provider which would provide the same coverage employees now have was, met with resistance. The resolution was pulled.
The next council meeting will be held on November 22. There will be no meeting on Nov. 8 because of elections.
Posted on Fri, October 28, 2016
by Buster Avera Contributing Writer