CHARLESTON - Mississippi County commissioners approved a request from Mitchell Insurance designating them the county's agent of record for Blue Cross-Blue Shield health insurance.
The letter of record approved by commissioners during Thursday's county commission meeting gives Mitchell Insurance "exclusive rights to provide Blue Cross-Blue Shield," County Clerk Junior DeLay said. "It offers a level of protection for the agent who gets out and does the footwork."
The county presently has a plan from Trustmark through Brink Insurance.
"Blue Cross-Blue Shield rejected us seven months ago," recalled Presiding Commissioner Jim Blumenberg.
"The last three times we tried they wouldn't take us," said Martin Lucas, commissioner. "And even if they did we wouldn't be able to afford it."
DeLay said the county has previously been quoted "generic rates" based on the county's census. "You can have 15 people come in with the same quote," DeLay said.
Having designated an agent of record, that agent will be willing to go through an actual application process with the county.
As the county's current plan has a March 1 anniversary date, the county will not have loss records for the complete year available.
DeLay noted the deductible resets Jan. 1, however. "That's the way they all do it," DeLay said. "The best case scenario for the county and employees is to be on a calender year."
Commissioners discussed looking into insurance plans without prescription cards and other types of co-pay benefits to lower premiums. "It may be all we can afford," said Commissioner Homer Oliver.
Blumenberg said the county will not risk any "fly by night" companies.
This round of request for proposals stipulate the health insurance provider must be licensed to do business in the state and have a minimum rating of B+.
"We considered it for an hour," said Blumenberg, as commissioners turned toward other business.
"We'll spend several hours considering it yet and it will still not be satisfactory," Oliver predicted.
In other Mississippi County news:
* Commissioners approved the purchase of 14 red oak trees at $100 each and 13 dogwood trees at $50 each from Tatums Nursery and Garden Center in East Prairie to be placed at the county-maintained Oak Grove Cemetery. The price includes planting the trees.
"He's got some nice dogwoods," said Oliver. "Well shaped."
Blumenberg said he will look for a new flagpole for the cemetery.
* County jail administrator Don Chance reported on operations at the jail.
Chance said the number of Immigration and Naturalization Service prisoners had dropped for a short while but is now climbing again. "We're running five days a week to St. Louis for them," he said.
Chance said he will soon submit paperwork that will raise their daily reimbursement rate for INS prisoners from $50 to $64.
Officials discussed the possibility that the reimbursement rate from the Department of Corrections may be cut again from $20 to $17.50. The rate was lowered earlier this year from $22.50.
Chance also reported that the county's share of a Local Law Enforcement Block Grant will go to purchase an infrared remote control camera to monitor known illegal dumping sites.
"It only runs when there's activity, motion," said Chance. He said the camera may also be used to monitor anhydrous tanks for theft.
Chance said because the county has reported online since January 2000 for the Missouri State Highway Patrol's Uniform Crime Reporting statistics, the county is eligible for many more grants.