Want to know whether the Madison schools get a good health insurance deal for teachers? Forget it.

Most of the $37M that the Madison school district will spend this year for employee health insurance goes to the cost for covering our teachers and their families. That’s about 10% of the total annual budget.
I support high quality health insurance for all of our employees. As a school board member, I also have a duty to ensure that all district dollars are spent wisely. I should know whether the district gets the best coverage that it can for teachers at the best cost that it can find. I cannot make good decisions regarding future contract negotiations or future operating budget referendums without this kind of information.
In nine years of service on the Madison school board, I have learned little in executive sessions on negotiations that would help me answer the basic question: are we getting a good deal on health insurance for teachers? When the district and Madison Teachers Inc. (MTI) agreed to form a joint task force that would publicly consider health insurance options, I hoped that open competition among providers would help me understand how the current commitments to Wisconsin Physicians Services and Group Health Cooperative compare to other options. I had hoped that the public would also learn something about how effectively the district negotiates over the cost of health insurance.
Forget it. The district and the union held two meetings on this topic and invited two insurance companies, in addition to the current providers, to make proposals. The union took an internal poll and decided to end the discussions. Teachers bar shift in health coverage
Business as usual continues. No direction from the board regarding the task force is one of many reasons that the public and the school board are no better informed as the result of creating the task force.