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ORANGE : Panel Charges Schools Overpay Benefits Trust

March 15, 1995|LESLEY WRIGHT

A school district subcommittee has charged that the district is "over funding" a trust that administers health benefits for teachers.

Kathleen Moran, a community activist who headed the seven-member subcommittee investigating the Orange Trust, said the district has overpaid benefits by more than $1.5 million since 1989.

The subcommittee of the Orange Unified School District's Fiscal Advisory Committee presented their findings to the school board last week. Representatives of the Orange Trust are expected to give their view at the next regular board meeting on March 23.

David Reger, teachers union president and a trustee of the Orange Trust, called the inquiry "a witch hunt." He said HMO participants typically subsidize the more expensive indemnity plans, and that the trust's directors have done nothing wrong.

District contributions to the trust, which was founded in 1985, are determined by collective bargaining agreements signed by district and union officials. The district and the union each appoint trustees to administer the fund.

The report charges that the district has been paying the maximum price for insurance coverage even though some teachers use less-costly HMOs.

"We claim there is no over funding," he said. "We are getting castigated for coming out with a positive bottom line." He noted that the trust has had to increase costs to teachers for co-payments, deductibles and insurance co-payments.

Board President Maureen Aschoff said the trustees discussed the charges in closed session after last week's meeting and agreed to have the district's labor attorney review the charges.

"The board is anxious to get at the truth," she said.

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