BRADENTON -- Manatee County school district officials have halted an inquiry into establishing an on-site medical clinic for employees.
Their move comes the same week school district administrators came under fire for considering opening a clinic when the health insurance fund is at a $9.4 million deficit.
“Our school board has made it clear, and I agree, that all of our focus needs to be on other financial issues and challenges facing our school district,” Superintendent Tim McGonegal said in a news release.
Since 2007, the school district’s health insurance deficit has skyrocketed. In June 2007, it was $700,000. One year later, it was $4.7 million. School administrators attempted to fix the escalating deficit but they only slowed down the problem. Instead of increasing $3 million-$4 million a year, the deficit increased by $1 million.
Last year, school administrators searched for a company that could operate the clinic in Manatee. School board members chose Concentra Total Care, which beat out two other finalists to operate Manatee County Schools’ medical center.
Representatives from Concentra gave board members a presentation April 4. They explained the cost savings the district could experience. They also talked about other benefits and shared that the clinic could be financially successful. School administrators believed the medical clinic could be one way for the district to earn money.
“I think staff thought health care clinics would be a revenue generator and reduce claims,” board chairman Robert Gause said. “It was too much of a distraction. We need to be focused on eliminating the deficit.”
McGonegal stressed that there are some positive signs concerning the district’s health insurance fund.
“Our trend factor in costs is lower than the industry average and lower than other school districts,” McGonegal said.
Gause, however, asked board members at the end of Monday night’s meeting their opinions on the health care clinic. That’s when the board made it known that the medical clinic shouldn’t be the focus of the school district.
McGonegal said he would ask the board to take official action to reject the medical clinic bids at a future meeting.