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Still Another Hermosa Insurance Case Probed

January 05, 1986|DEAN MURPHY | Times Staff Writer

HERMOSA BEACH — Personnel Director Robert Blackwood has launched an administrative investigation to determine why former Fire Chief Ronald D. Simmons listed two different wedding dates on enrollment forms for the city's health insurance program, city officials said last week.

This is the third suspected irregularity in a month to be revealed by the disclosure of insurance documents.

Simmons, who quit last July to work for Hughes Aircraft Co. in El Segundo after four years as chief, attempted to enroll his wife in the dental and health insurance programs on two occasions, according to documents released by Blackwood last week.

Simmons' wife did not receive coverage after the first form was filed, but she did get the coverage two months later when the second form was filed with a new wedding date, Blackwood said.

"We are looking to see where the problem occurred so we can correct any confusion," Blackwood said. "We want to know what went on here and why."

First Date Correct

Simmons said in a telephone interview last week that the first wedding date is the correct one, but he declined to explain why he listed a different date on the second form.

"I don't think it is anybody else's business what I have in my personnel file," said Simmons, 53. "I just don't consider it anything other than my own personal business."

In a change-of-enrollment form signed by Simmons on July 20, 1984, the former fire chief added Barbara Meyer as his wife. He listed July 28, 1979, as their wedding date.

Blackwood, who has been personnel director since July, said he assumes that the request was denied by the insurance companies--Health Maintenance Network of Southern California and Oral Health Services Inc.--because Meyer was not enrolled after the form was filed. Blackwood said the city has sent letters to both insurance companies asking why the application was rejected.

Second Application

Two months later, on Sept. 18, 1984, Simmons filled out a second form, this time listing his wife as Barbara Simmons with a Sept. 8, 1984, wedding date, according to the documents. Both enrollment forms listed his wife's birth date as July 8, 1942.

The second attempt to get coverage was automatically accepted by the insurance companies because of an agreement between the city and the companies to enroll new dependents--without question--within 30 days of their birth or marriage, Blackwood said. The only other time employees can enroll dependents without questions is during an open enrollment period that is offered once a year, he said.

Simmons said in the interview that he enrolled his wife as a dependent on the city's health and dental insurance programs after she left her job as a nurse at South Bay Hospital. He said his wife uses both her maiden name, Meyer, and his last name, Simmons, on documents.

As part of the city's investigation, City Manager Gregory Meyer sent Simmons a letter requesting that he explain why he listed two different wedding dates. Blackwood said last week that the city had not yet received a response from Simmons.

No Written Response

Simmons said he will not send a written response to City Manager Meyer, although he said his wife telephoned Meyer after they received the letter.

"I did exactly what (Meyer) told me to do," said Simmons, referring to filling out the two forms with two different wedding dates. "I see this as a smoke screen to try to hide someone else's problem. . . . I don't want to let that city drag me down and get involved in its problems."

The city manager was on vacation late last week and could not be reached for comment.

Blackwood said the wedding date discrepancy was discovered when he pulled Simmons' forms for Roger Creighton, a civic activist who has long suspected that some city employees have enrolled ineligible dependents on health and dental programs.

D.A. Investigation Asked

Creighton, who sued the city to get access to health and dental insurance files of several employees, last month asked the Los Angeles district attorney's office to investigate Mayor Jack Wood and former Personnel Director Carolyn Smith because of questions he raised about their insurance forms. A spokesman for the district attorney said last week that no action has been taken on the request.

Blackwood said the city paid a $79.59 monthly health insurance premium for Barbara Simmons for nine months and a $5.04 monthly dental insurance premium for eight months. Blackwood did not know last week if Barbara Simmons made any claims while she was covered. He said that Daniel V. Maniaci, the city's insurance broker, has been asked to sift through insurance files to determine if she made any claims.

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