Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Open Letter to Gary Fralick - MESSA Director of Communications and Government Relations

I respect and appreciate your response to my little blog post. But in reading your comments I’m compelled to highlight some concerns regarding your interpretation of the Hay Group Report.

Included in the Hay report are tables 2.1 and 2.2 which I have reproduced below. Notice that in both tables MESSA programs are the most expensive; they are the first, second, third, and sixth most expensive program options.

You point out that pooling is a very advantageous mechanism for generating savings. However, MESSA has not passed those saving to either it’s members (teachers) or to the schools that pay the premiums. In fact, any savings that may have been generated rest on your balance sheet in the form of $268 million in cash, investments and other assets.

The Hay report also revealed that Blue Cross Blue Shield has the best provider discounts in the state, not MESSA. In fact, they Hay Report makes NO mention as to whether MESSA is “well run” or “impressive” so you must be attempting to read between the lines (not withstanding your creative editing on YouTube). You’ve also spun the truth about providing “the best health care at the best price.” In fact, the Hay report notes that MESSA is the “high cost” option among the comparative providers; a fact supported by the charts shown above.

I’ll give you this, anyone that earns over $88 million a year must be doing something right (per your IRS filing for year ending 2005), but in this case that “well run” performance comes at the expense of students, teachers, and tax payers.

Considering your comment that MESSA is not a “closed system,” I must disagree. MESSA does not share experience data with the schools that pay for the insurance, MESSA does not share it’s $268 million in assets, and MESSA restricts plan choices which drives up costs to schools. In my view, these factors make MESSA is a closed system. I’d more inclined to feel that you “have nothing to hide” if you’d openly publish the documents required by the state and the IRS on your web site (you don't); for now I’ll just get the data directly from the reporting agencies.

Michigan and its schools are in crisis, we need substantial change immediately or we risk massive cuts and reductions in service. MESSA could be the catalyst for change, but I sense too much defensive posturing and resistance to constructive dialogue. Start proposing programs and options that save schools (and teachers) real money. Heck, maybe you could shake free some of that $268 million you're holding, it wouldn’t hurt!

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