“Conflict of Interest”?

Christina Daglas article in the Cap Times on 6/8/05 refers to John Matthews, head of MTI, and his position on the board of WPS the insurance company that provides policies to the Madison school teachers as not having a conflict of interest. I have no information that Mr. Matthews has done anything wrong however, I strongly dispute the fact that this is not a conflict of interest. This is the first I have heard of his position on the board of WPS. I have asked the board many times why teachers are under such an expensive health care contract when many families in the community of Madison are well served by U.W. providers under a less expensive program, mine included. I was told many times the cost savings would be small to switch to a different carrier but this newly revealed information makes me question whether that is true or not. Per the Capital Times, Mr. Matthews fails to see a conflict of interest…..he fails to see a conflict of interest. I guess I keep repeating this statement and wondering how he can not see a conflict of interest. Anyone else see a conflict of interest?

One thought on ““Conflict of Interest”?”

    John Matthews would like us to believe that he was fully cleared in 1994 of any conflict of interest issues concerning his dual role as MTI union official and board member of Wisconsin Physicians Service (WPS). This is not the case. On February 1, 1994, then Commissioner of Insurance, Josephine W. Musser, stated in a letter to School Board member Nancy Mistele that her office did NOT address numerous concerns that Nancy had raised including “… conflict of interest issues which may arise under labor law or raise questions as a matter of public policy…” and “… the reciprocal concern of a potential conflict of interest by a union official who is involved in negotiating coverage for union membership.” Musser went on to suggest that the Madison School District “may wish to give serious attention to a number of questions [ ] which are not within the scope of this offices’ authority” and “If the Madison School Board wishes to seek further clarification of this issue, it should ask for a determination from the WERC.” I have been unable to uncover any documentation in the WERC database that the School Board ever followed up on Musser’s suggestions. I believe it is time for them to do so.
    Matthews states that he files a conflict of interest statement with WPS but does not indicate whether he files such a statement with the Madison Teachers union. Do union members know how much he is compensated as a board member of WPS including any non-cash benefits he may receive currently and in the future from the company or its subsidiaries? Given the history of Matthews holding health insurance hostage at the bargaining table and the district not raising a serious challenge in recent years, Matthews’ allegiance to WPS begs the question: Will the new joint district-union task force for investigating health insurance costs be a truly collaborative effort to solve a very costly problem or instead end up being a collusion to maintain the status quo?
    KJ Jakobson

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