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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Brown: Prescription Plan Problem Solved

On January 2, I told you that some NorCo employees were experiencing problems getting their prescriptions filled. Pharmacies were being told that the County's prescription plan had expired, and employees were being forced to dig into their own pockets at a time of the year when they already spent most of their money on Christmas gifts. This was no fluke. Throughout January 2, complaints began to pile up. It even affected Controller Steve Barron when he attempted to have a prescription filled for a sick daughter. He sent a mass email to employees, advising them of the problem.

Benefits Administrator Lorraine Schintz has blamed the problem on Capital BlueCross, which experienced a processing delay when attempting to activate the new plan. But the problem remained unresolved until Monday, at 3 pm. Then Schintz waited another 2 1/2 hours before telling the workforce about the problem and how to go about getting reimbursement.

In my view, this is unacceptable. Schintz is paid $81,200 precisely to make sure this sort of thing does not happen. She was aware of the problem on Friday, but failed to address it until today. In fairness, she may be overwhelmed in a short-staffed office.

Executive John Brown has to take some responsibility for this lapse. He has allowed Human Resources to languish without a Director since October, despite receiving plenty of notice of the impending departure of Director Pat Siementowski. He was nogt around on Friday, when this problem became known.

The good news is that the problem is fixed before anyone suffered, but it should never have happened.


Anonymous said...

I do not believe that Schintz is benefits administrator.She was the deputy director of HR, an exempt position. She is likely fearful of losing her job and will carry the water for Brown and his flunkies on this debacle. More egg on the faces of Brownpants and his Blundering Herd.

Anonymous said...

and the hate from the sick little mind continues

Anonymous said...

that is schintz's answer for everything blame someone else ! HR needs to clean house it's long overdue starting with schintz!

Anonymous said...

Bernie , I would offer this perspective: this is a 50/50 per cent responsibility on the part of the county and the provider. To break it down further when a plan hits the county it is not a simple matter of saying yes or no but also negotiations are involved. There are changes involved. This responsibility for the county was the director of the HR Dept.in discussion with the Executive. It was not Lorraine`s job. Don`t forget this position is unfilled and difficult to fill besides . Having dysfunction administratively will make the job tougher to fill...pay what you want. Pat`s absence is hurting and she will be difficult to replace. She was both professional and respected. Don`t blame Lorraine.

Anonymous said...

As someone in a management position, who has dealt with health insurance companies before, I have dealt with this exact situation (which happens way too often). There is likely very little blame to be placed on the employer (county) for this - it's almost always a simple administrative error by the insurance carrier.

When this type of thing happens, the first challenge is to recognize that a problem exists and begin to address it with the carrier. It takes some time to recognize that the issue is group-wide, not just with specific individuals (how may people have appointments on 1/1 or 1/2?). Then, once a group-wide problem is recognized, you need to work with the carrier to find out what the issue is and come up with both a permanent fix (that will inevitably take a bit of time to complete) and short-term workaround that can be used in the interim. Finally, you need to figure out how best to communicate this to your employees. To have this all completed by 1/5 (basically two business days while working around a holiday and weekend) is actually fairly impressive.

Sorry...I know all of this information doesn't match the narrative you're going for of a county administration out of control, but it's almost certainly reality.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Mr. Anonymous Expert, The County was made aware it had a problem on January 2. As far as I am concerned, an Executive who considers the worker the county's most precious asset would interrupt his holiday and get his ass into the courthouse to make sure the problem was fixed that day. The blame is ultimately with him.

Anonymous said...

Bernie, as I mentioned, I know it doesn't match your narrative so you'll never admit it, but you have no case here. There are apparently plenty of other areas you can go after county government on...this isn't the one to use.

It's almost certainly not a measure of anyone's level of caring about employees...it's a simple fact that things like this take a bit of time to discover and resolve, and a two business day (or even five day, if you want to count weekends/holidays) turnaround to resolve something like this is actually something that should be praised, not demeaned.

I'm a casual reader of your blog, and I read because I find your causes interesting and credit you for your passion. However, in this case, you're showing more than a bit of pettiness and a lack of understanding of how things like this are resolved. Unless they get out of hand, these type of issues aren't resolved by Chief Executives, they are resolved by health insurance companies and HR contacts from the company/municipality working together.