Arkansas lawmakers agree to additional month for consultant to review state employee and school health insurance plans

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The Legislative Council on Friday voted to extend a month’s contract for a consultant it hired in May to recommend changes to state health insurance plans for employees and retirees of public schools and universities. the state.

On Thursday, the board’s executive committee recommended approval of an amendment to the Bureau of Legislative Research’s contract with the Segal Group to extend the contract until Jan.31 up to an additional $ 57,500.

The office’s initial consulting contract with The Segal Group was $ 575,000 until December 31, so the amended contract is $ 632,500. This contract includes a renewal option for six months.

Bureau director Marty Garrity told the subcommittee on Thursday that the contract should be extended for further work on the proposed legislation and various parts of the consultant’s report.

Rep. Jeff Wardlaw, R-Hermitage, said he has met with officials from the state employee benefits division and does not want the division to pursue contracts and issue requests for proposals that conflict with the consultant’s recommendations and proposed health legislation. insurance plans that could be considered during the next financial session.

The Segal Group will work with the Benefits Division to ensure that the division’s requests for proposals are in line with the consultant’s recommendations and proposed legislation, he said.

When asked if he plans to convene a special legislative session to consider bills relating to insurance plans or have the measures reviewed in the fiscal session that begins on February 14, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said said on Thursday: “We will consider if there is a need for a special session at that time and therefore we will have to wait and see, so it is a possibility but nothing firm at this time.”

It takes a two-thirds vote of the House and Senate to consider non-supply bills in a fiscal session. By calling an extraordinary session, the governor sets the agenda.

In November, the Legislative Council approved the Segal Group’s recommendations to stabilize funding and reduce costs for insurance plans.

Among other things, The Segal Group recommended that the Employee Benefits Division prepare a request for proposals for a Medicare Advantage group prescription drug provider and introduce Medicare Advantage prescription drug coverage in 2023; prepare a request for proposals for a pharmacy supplier that describes the flexibility desired in the program; and post a request for proposal on a normal contractual cycle for the division’s medical contract with Blue Cross Blue Shield.

NO REVENUE ADVISOR

In another consultant-related case on Thursday, the executive subcommittee decided not to hire a consultant who would advise lawmakers on revenue matters such as estimating the tax impact of proposed legislation and forecasting the amount. money that the state will collect.

In June, the office issued a request for proposals for consulting services in government budgeting and forecasting. The office received four proposals. The work would be similar to that carried out by the State Finance and Administration Department. The department, however, reports to the governor.

Econometric Studios LLC submitted a maximum bid of $ 29,500, while REMI Inc. submitted a maximum bid of $ 170,000, BKD LLP submitted a maximum bid of $ 590,000 and IHS Markit, doing business as IHS Global Inc., has submitted a maximum bid of $ 1 million, according to office records.

Wardlaw said on Friday that the executive subcommittee had decided to withdraw the request for proposals to reassess the needs of the General Assembly.

Pro Tempore Senate Speaker Jimmy Hickey R-Texarkana told the executive subcommittee on Thursday: “We have decided that this may not be the best way forward for the state.”

Legislative leaders intended to hire a consultant to get a “dynamic rating” on some proposed economic development superprojects and tax cuts, he said.

But consultants can cost more than what legislative leaders want to spend and be larger than necessary, Hickey said.

Information for this article was provided by Rachel Herzog of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.


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