2011-06-05 / Viewpoints

MESSA insurance explained

Letters to the editor

Dear Editor,

I am reluctantly addressing comments made in articles in previous issues of the Tri-County Citizen, about the MESSA insurance that is provided to the teachers in the Montrose School District. As a part of the Montrose Education Association bargaining team, I would like to provide an explanation, and more accurate information.

First of all, the MESSA insurance is a nonprofit insurance, with no commissioned salespeople. It is not affiliated with any part of Health-Plus, has no connection to Health Plus, and is a Blue Cross/Blue Shield policy. Teachers prefer it, because it provides excellent coverage for them, and their families, including a wellness component, is universally accepted, and is the only health insurance that pays premiums for laid off teachers, for a period of time commensurate with their time of service, at no cost to the district. Health care providers prefer it because it provides expedient payment.

Since 2001, the Montrose Education Association has been committed to helping the Montrose Schools with the cost of this insurance. From negotiated agreements to change coverage to contain costs, to a negotiated cap, which means that the teachers pay the increases above a certain amount, to help mediate impact on the district, the Montrose Education Association has saved this district over $500,000 in the last ten years alone. Teachers have also agreed to changes in coverage that provide further savings. The Montrose Education Association has always worked with the Administration of the Montrose Community Schools to reach fair and reasonable agreements to maintain educational quality in Montrose.

It is truly unfortunate that the State of Michigan, under leadership by Governor Snyder, has chosen school districts as part of the plan to provide $1.8 billion in tax breaks to Michigan’s wealthiest corporations. It is, as Mr. Kleinhans stated, “borderline criminal.”

The fact is that these politicians transferred money out of the K-12 surplus, and imposed a per-pupil cut. That, not MESSA insurance, is the cause of the current school disaster.

Montrose teachers, parents, community and businesses have always demonstrated a spirit of sacrifice for this district. They willingly dip into their own pockets to supplement supply budgets that the district cannot afford. They do so because we do not want our children to go without. We urge the citizens in this community to turn their attention to the true “villains” in this crisis—the governor and his band of followers who would sacrifice children to provide tax breaks to Michigan’s wealthiest corporations.

Kathleen Dillon-Dowd

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