Politics is the most divisive topic of the day. More so than religion or sports, especially these days. Everyone’s focus is on President Trump, for better or worse, or national politics in general. We rarely take the time to discuss local politics, let alone getting involved at that level.
Politics at the local level affect us in a very personal way and we rarely connect it to politics. Most of us are just trying to get through our day and provide for our families. We are generally grateful for what we have and don’t ask for too much more. Admittedly, I get tunnel vision to the world around me when all I want is to provide a great life for my wife and boys and spend time with the incredible friends I have. I want to be at the Little League fields coaching my boys and the boys of my friends, not thinking about the local school board or our city council.
That all changed a few months back when my father-in-law and I pulled the trigger on expanding our company to Reno.
You see, I am working on an incredible project that will benefit thousands of families in the Reno area. I am talking about the families like the one I grew up in where my parents were just trying to keep their heads above water while working for the school district. Families like those who work in the casinos for minimum wage. Families like our city police officers and county building inspectors. And families who are our neighbors and friends.
And best yet, this project will also save our tax payers millions of dollars. None of this is hyperbole, it is fact. This project is the main reason I left the CIA – to leave a dangerous career to take on the risk of building a better world for my family as an entrepreneur.
My father-in-law and I have been developing this program for the last six years to great success in Los Angeles waiting for our opportunity to bring it to a much smaller market closer to home where it will help people the most. Not just people, but my neighbors, my friends, and my own family. You.
And now we are finally here in Reno and fighting to bring our program to the masses. But we are hindered by the same local politics I never let affect me previously.
Without getting too complicated, our program is essentially a health plan for employers that is guaranteed to save employers and their employees money. Yes, not sexy, but stay with me on this one.
The current hospital healthcare model pillages the bank accounts of large employers, especially tax-payer funded entities like school districts and cities. The current model works like this: say you are a teacher and your child gets hurt and needs to go to the emergency room. When all is said and done, you will get a massive bill thanks to the hospital charging insane prices and the hospital will also send a massive bill to your employer who happens to be the tax-payer funded school district. The school district pays the bill and the hospital makes a bunch of money. Obviously simplified, but that is the general idea of the current model. The tax-payers lose. The employee loses. The hospital wins.
Our Model – Saint Mary’s Health Network
Our model is this: you show up to the Saint Mary’s emergency room with your kid and are admitted, that bill is waived. Zero costs to you. And that is it. Saint Mary’s doesn’t turn around and send a massive bill to the school district. Under our model, Saint Mary’s charges a low per person cost to the employer at the beginning of the month and lives within those means. If you show up to the ER every day for a month, the hospital loses money, not you or the employer. Under the current model, the hospital keeps sending bills and keeps collecting money. Under our model you win. The tax-payers win. Even the hospital wins if they do their job right. My job is to make sure they do their job right and provide you the highest quality care. And I am good at my job and Saint Mary’s is good at theirs.
Washoe County School District
What happens under the current model is the school district’s hospital bills start to add up. The tax-payers are on the hook for all these costs. In fact, Washoe County School District’s employee medical costs are expected to increase up to 14.8% next year! They have increased 17% in the last year alone. Even crazier, the Board of Trustees only approved a 10% increase in the budget next year. With a budget that is already $7 million negative, there are only two ways to cover this increase.
One, decrease the benefits of teachers, bus drivers, custodians, cafeteria workers, and anyone else working in the school district. Two, raise the insurance premiums for all these folks. Likely both.
To the tax-payers, this is fair and generally responsible as much as it hurts to say. To the teachers who buy school supplies for their classrooms out of their own pocket, this is going to be tough. But that’s life under the current model.
Now, the exciting part, as far as how exciting this topic goes. Our plan will save Washoe County School District $7 million this year alone. This plan single-handedly wipes out the entire school district 2019 budget deficit. Instead of seeing massive increases in healthcare costs next year, the school district could see a decrease of 11%. We are talking about a massive amount of money for a public entity. School district employees would see their primary care copays drop from $35 to $25 next year and all visits at our participating hospital, an “A” safety rated major hospital, will be free.
This plan works for every large employer in the Reno/Sparks area. The casinos, the City, NV Energy, the University, and all the new employers moving to our region. The best part is that many of these employers are already interested in participating in this program next year.
But not Washoe County School District. The bureaucrats in charge of benefits, not the Board of Trustees or the Superintendent, but the bureaucrats themselves and their consultants at the Nevada Business Group on Health have unilaterally decided to keep the status quo despite the ethical responsibility to be mindful of the tax-payers and their clients. A proposal is on the table from Saint Mary’s, a major hospital in our region, that dramatically cuts tax-payers costs, costs less for their employees, allows their employees the option to choose which providers and hospitals they want to go to, and includes an increase in the quality of their healthcare.
Instead, those WCSD bureaucrats have rejected this proposal. They will instead be raising premiums for their employees and decreasing their benefits. WCSD will cover the increase in healthcare costs by forcing the burden onto the backs of their employees instead of considering all their options. That burden will affect families like mine and yours. So, if you are a WCSD employee and your premiums and prescription costs are more next year, go thank the WCSD Risk Management office for not looking out for you when a legitimate option was presented by a major player in this community.
Perhaps this comes off as sour grapes, but I take this personally. The decision to not allow a transparent and public bidding process for a major contract offends me as a tax-payer. The decision to put the increases onto the backs of our teachers and bus drivers when a viable, legitimate option exists offends me. So, yes, this is personal to me. It is personal to my family, it is personal to my friends. It is personal to our community. And it should be personal to you.
Building a Better Reno
After a year of running Reno Dads, I have learned a few things about fatherhood and this community. I have learned that we are all basically the same deep down – a bunch of dads who love our kids and will do anything for them. And I have learned that there is a community of dads out there who deeply love our city and want this to be the greatest place to raise our families. I now have the opportunity to do something incredible for the community I love, to personally contribute to making this the home I want my children – and your children – to thrive in, and I am doing my best to make sure that happens.
If you enjoyed this article, check out Talking To Your Kids About 9/11 and Talking To Your Kids About Death. As always, thanks for your support.
4 Comments Add yours
Is there any reason this can’t be done for the Lyon county school district?
Shame on you for getting something absolutely wrong! You mention the bureaucrats at the Nevada Business Group on Health keeping the status quo, but they don’t make the final decision for the WCSD. It’s the Board of Trustees! You are telling your bloggers that it’s too late, when it’s not. The vote from the School Board won’t come for several months. There is still time. Get your timeline and facts straight before posting something so important.
Thank you incredibly much for your comment, Darryl. I agree, it isn’t too late. I’ll be at every Trustee meeting and every Group Insurance Committee meeting making our case until the District sees reason, including working behind the scenes with the Associations, employees, and stakeholders. The Trustees have now been advised of exactly what is going on and have a responsibility to act.
The Nevada Business Group certainly doesn’t make the decision, however, the District typically relies on their recommendation for healthcare. Had we not put up a fight, their recommendation to change nothing would have sealed the fate of the District employees. They are not a friend of the District, or any of their clients for that matter, and should be removed as a vendor.
The bureaucrats forcing the District to retain the current out of control contract are District staff in the Risk Management Office. They are preventing the proposal from being heard by the Group Insurance Committee. If that Committee can’t hear it, they can’t recommend it to the Trustees, who will have a hard time supporting it themselves.
My understanding of the situation is the result of being directly involved. I hope you will join me in this fight. It isn’t over, far from it. We will win. The District employees will win. Our community will win.