Legislative Advocacy Conference
Martin Romine, Region 1
Each July, ASBO International, in conjunction with AASA, holds a Legislative Advocacy Conference in our Nation’s Capital. Superintendents and Business Officials from around the country meet to discuss education funding and issues of importance at the federal level. This past July, those attending the conference from New Mexico were able to visit with either a member of the New Mexico congressional delegation or a staff member to review the funding priorities as seen by the two organizations.
We reminded our delegation of the original intent of the IDEA B statute and noted that it has never been fully funded. A bill has been introduced in the US House of Representatives to fully fund IDEA B to cover 40% of the cost to educate these students, which is currently funded at 15%. We requested and received support for this change. School infrastructure, especially as it relates to school safety, is a big issue throughout the nation. Support for a federal infrastructure plan to address school safety as well as construction, maintenance, and repair was sought and received from all of our elected officials.
Due to recent changes in school nutrition, there are many districts, both in New Mexico and throughout the country, that struggle with unpaid meal debt and lunch shaming issues. We requested that this issue be examined and that a workable solution be proposed to deal with this issue. School Districts that have chosen to participate in the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) Program have experienced good results and have asked the ASBO lobby to continue this program, as well as seek increased funding as the CEP program is accomplishing its goal of providing nutritious meals for students. Along with this request was a request to simplify regulations for nutrition programs to reduce administrative costs and burdens.
Health care costs will continue to require a large portion of a school district’s annual budget. Part of the ASBO healthcare platform was encouragement to provide adequate funding and training for districts to implement healthcare regulations. Also included was a request to streamline regulations in order to reduce administrative costs and burdens as they have to do with the ACA employer mandate. All in all, it was a busy few days with lots of meetings, but it is always good to meet with the New Mexico Congressional delegation to share our concerns with them and to thank them for what they do to help educate students in New Mexico. If you have time next July, you might think about joining us as we continue to advocate for the education of our students.
Chris Parrino, Charter Rep
The following represents an overview of NMPSIA programs and a financial update. Should you desire more information, feel free to contact Mr. Chris Parrino, NMPSIA School Business Official Board Representative at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also contact Ms. Ernestine Chavez, Executive Director, NMPSIA, at email@example.com, or Mr. Richard Valerio, Deputy Director, at Richard.firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 1.800.548.3724.
On August 8, 2019, the NMPSIA Board held its election of officers. Ms. Mary Parr-Sanchez was re-elected to serve as Chairwoman, Mr. Chris Parrino was re-elected to serve as Co-Chairman, and Mr. Al Park was re-elected to serve as Secretary.
Ms. Ernestine Chavez serves as the NMPSIA Executive Director. Ms. Chavez oversees all NMPSIA related services, including the Risk and Benefits Programs.
Mr. Richard Valerio serves as Deputy Director. Mr. Valerio assists Ms. Chavez with managing the work of the agency and continues to work jointly with the NMPSIA, Chief Financial Officer, Mr. Patrick Sandoval, in overseeing the agency’s budget and Financial Division. Mr. Sandoval works primarily with the agency’s budget and investments and oversees the Financial Division.
As previously mentioned, the NMPSIA Board approved a lower medical premium increase than anticipated for FY20. There will be a blended medical premium increase of 5.6% (5.9% increase on the High Option Medical Plans and EPO Medical Plan, and a 3.1% increase on the Low Option Medical Plan). The dental plan increase will be 5%. These rates go into effect on October 1, 2019 (affecting September payrolls).
The following medical plan enhancement occurred effective July 1, 2019:
- The age restriction has been removed, and the in-network copayments for members for autism office services will be reduced to the primary care services copayment amount under each of the medical plans offered under Presbyterian Health Plan and Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Mexico.
The following medical plan enhancements will occur effective January 1, 2020:
- The in-network copayments for members for physical therapy will be reduced to the primary care services copayment amount under each of the medical plans offered under Presbyterian Health Plan and Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Mexico. The 10-copayment limit cost share for members will remain in place.
- The in-network copayments for members for alternative health care benefits (for example, chiropractic services, acupuncture, naprapathy, etc.) will be reduced to the primary care services copayment amount under each of the medical plans offered under Presbyterian Health Plan and Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Mexico.
In addition, a second option for a 90-day fill for maintenance medication (generic and brand name) will become available statewide at Walgreens Pharmacies and other participating retail pharmacies effective on January 1, 2020. This is not a mandatory requirement! Again, this is an option for members. This will save members money as the 90-day copays are less than three 30-day fill copays. This should increase adherence and be a convenient option for members. Later this fall, NMPSIA will be adding a list of the participating pharmacies to the NMPSIA website at nmpsia.com.
NMPSIA encourages members to use the video visits benefit under both BCBSNM and Presbyterian as an alternative to care rather than going to urgent care. The cost to the member is $0. Physicians can e-prescribe medications in order to treat members. This is a great benefit, especially for members living in rural communities with little or no after-hours care for non-emergent situations. If a member cannot be treated through a video visit, the member will be redirected to other health care options. In order to use this service, go to your medical plan’s website to complete the registration for this service. Once you are registered, you can quickly access this level of care when needed. If you have any questions or require assistance, please contact the Benefits Department at NMPSIA at 1.800.548.3724. (BCBSNM currently offers video visits for behavioral health at the same $0 copayment, and Presbyterian is working toward implementing this option in the future.)
NMPSIA’s data warehousing services, provided by Segal, have assisted in rate projections and plan design to determine where NMPSIA needs to focus on enhancing member education to better assist members in efforts to manage their overall health status. Diabetes, asthma, cancer, coronary artery disease, inflammatory conditions, and hemophilia continue to be some of cost drivers on both the medical plans and the prescription drug plan.
NMPSIA’s wellness programs offered through the medical plans are working to improve member engagement. NMPSIA is asking for your support in considering the implementation of a wellness at work program to assist in improving the overall health of the NMPSIA membership. NMPSIA is a self-insured plan, so a healthy population will translate to affordable premiums and good benefits. These programs may also contribute to less absenteeism and improve presentism, as well as encourage members to develop a relationship with a primary care physician in order to ensure they become aware if they may be at risk of developing a chronic medical condition. The programs can be designed to fit the needs of your district/school as one-size does not fit all. If you would like more information, please contact Ms. Katherine Chavez, Benefits and Wellness Operations Manager, at Katherine.Chavez@state.nm.us at 1.800.548.3724, ext. 1011. Please allow NMPSIA to help you come up with a strategic plan for your district/school. Remember, wellness is not just about nutrition and exercise, it is about our emotional, financial, occupational, environmental, spiritual, and social state of mind. Please visit nmpsia.com and review the presentations made during the July 2019 Regional Benefit Training sessions. The trainings were geared toward improving overall health.
For the time period 2007-2021, NMPSIA’s annual average per member per month claims trend on medical is 4.89% compared to 7.37% nationally, on prescription drugs is 6.56% compared to 7.55% nationally, and on dental is 2.72% compared to 3.47%.
The Risk Services Division of NMPSIA provides insurance for Property, Liability, School Board Legal Liability, Crime, Cyber Liability and Workers’ Compensation coverages. NMPSIA members consist of K-12, Charter Schools and Educational Entities (including several colleges and universities). Insurance is provided by a Memorandum of Coverage. NMPSIA maintains large self-insured retentions/deductibles, which means that NMPSIA pays losses on most cases that are filed on behalf of its members. NMPSIA purchases excess insurance from carriers that provide large limits of liability in case a claim exceeds retentions. NMPSIA contracts with various professionals that provide services for the following: brokerage, consulting, administration, actuarial, driver information retrieval, and claims management. These groups, along with staff, meet once a month reviewing coverages, claims, loss trends and loss prevention services to ensure NMPSIA provides the broadest coverage available and the best service possible.
Within the Risk Program, there are many areas of loss control issues that are addressed. NMPSIA’s efforts to focus on playgrounds, a leading cause of serious injury among children, has also led to an expansion of PSFA review. The hope is an increase in funding will ultimately reduce the risk and affect the stability of the pool.
NMPSIA, through its contract with Poms and Associates, has spent a vast amount of time focusing on school violence and sexual molestation trainings. NMPSIA’s main efforts are to provide consulting services that helps to ensure the safety of children and employees. NMPSIA and Poms and Associates drafted and distributed guidelines for arming school personnel for all members. These guidelines are be posted on nmpsia.com under the Risk tab.
The NMPSIA Board endorsed the Sandy Hook Promise Program, an anonymous reporting program and system. NMPSIA is hopeful this new Program will encourage individuals (including students) to report inappropriate behavior in order to prevent serious misconduct. Sandy Hook Promise is free of charge to all members and participation is strongly encouraged. Information can be found on nmpsia.com under the Risk tab. If you wish to discuss the Program in detail, please contact Ms. Julie Garcia with Poms and Associates at email@example.com or at 505.797.1354. It is imperative that we all work together to try to change the culture in our schools to “say something!”
In addition, House Bill 129 (“School Security Personnel and Deadly Weapons”) was passed by the Legislature. This bill defines “School Security Personnel” and the required training for individuals approved to carry a weapon on school grounds. This legislation goes into effective on July 1, 2020. NMPSIA will be working with the PED on the Rules outlining requirements for schools.
Further, NMPSIA worked with the PED on SB204 Medical Cannabis in Schools. The PED finalized and released the rule for storage and administration of medical cannabis in schools.
Another area of focus in the Risk program has been the development of a Boundary Policy. It was discovered that school districts did not have an effective policy that spelled out all the do’s and don’ts and both legal and moral responsibilities of an educator, and their duty to report misbehavior. A policy was adopted by the NMPSIA board and distributed for districts to adopt. This policy is available for viewing on nmpsia.com under the Risk tab. NMPSIA has also been participating on a Task Force managed by the PED. This is a result of House Memorial 57 that calls to identify issues regarding ethical misconduct.
NMPSIA continues to fund and support CES with a TAP program that assists districts with special education issues, such as IDEA and IEP’s, and has been very successful. NMPSIA is always looking to improve education and programs to avoid employment practice claims and to ensure the due process rights of employees along with ultimately providing a safe environment for our children to learn. All these initiatives involve great teamwork between staff and its consultants.
NMPSIA passed an average 2.53% risk premium increase for FY20 for the Risk Program. Increases for districts vary based on their experience and exposure. The financial losses resulting from sexual molestation and inappropriate touching cases continue to rise. This type of activity will contribute to larger premium increases in the future.
Further, contact Ms. Garcia for any risk-related training you wish to bring to your district/charter school. A summary of trainings can be found at nmpsia.com under the Risk tab. There is no cost for these trainings!
NMPSIA’s unaudited risk fund balance for FY19 is $5,657,225 and $27,373,893 for employee benefits. The projected FY20 fund balance for risk is $7,104,817 and for benefits is $26,630,183. Due to unpredictable risk and benefits expenses, these projected fund balances can change dramatically throughout the year. For example, the influx of sexual molestation and inappropriate touching cases, and large hail losses can adversely affect the risk fund and the high cost claimants can adversely affect the benefits fund.
NMPSIA is a self-insured group plan, and the NMPSIA Board is often in a situation of approving increases in premium to ensure the projected claims and the unknown claims are funded accordingly. While some areas have improved, they can dramatically change overnight. There has been an increase in the severity of claims for both benefits and risk, and the increase in healthcare costs have contributed as well. This is a challenge experienced throughout the insurance industry nationwide.
NMPSIA does not receive a direct appropriation from the State General Fund. The Authority’s appropriation request sets the expenditure authority in which claims, and other expenses, can be paid by the Authority. The employer contribution for premiums paid to NMPSIA are funded through the “Insurance” line item in Public School Support.
NMPSIA met with the Public Education Department to recommend the PED request $17.4 million in additional funding for increases in the employer contribution for insurance through NMPSIA for FY21. Albuquerque Public Schools generally receive about 1/3 (one-third) of any appropriations through the mechanics of the funding formula.
New Mexico Public Facility Managers Association
Jeannie Harris, Region 6
We all realize the important role that facilities management plays in our schools—our students need a safe, healthy, comfortable environment. We are also aware how facility costs can negatively impact our budgets when we least expect it, but we know that those costs can be decreased with good maintenance practices. Just as NMASBO strives to lead the New Mexico school business profession, the New Mexico Public Facilities Management Association (NMPFMA) aspires to do the same for our facilities professionals.
NMPFMA has prepared a strategic plan with goals in place to:
- assist facilities management personnel in effecting the best possible programs for construction, operations, maintenance of physical property and equipment at facilities and public buildings;
- develop and implement training programs designed to improve the management, supervisory and technical knowledge, skills and abilities of public facilities professionals both statewide and regionally;
- provide an Operations Staff Certificate Program with access to seven training modules for new custodial, maintenance, and operations staff;
- advocate for plant and facilities management by providing positive, professional relationships with Superintendents, Business Officials, legislative representatives and other community leaders; and
- provide statewide networking for facilities professionals for the exchange of ideas and best practices.
In order to become successful, the NMPFMA needs the support of Business Officials and Superintendents. In September, districts will see an invitation via an invoice from CES for membership dues for the NMPFMA. Dues are structured according to enrollment size, much like NMASBO. Dues are fairly moderate, so please consider joining this organization to help our facilities staff grow professionally.