At its 195th convention last November, the Diocese of Ohio approved language that both adjusted to the reality of living with the Denominational Health Plan and, in another resolution, R-8, asked the General Convention to remove the requirements from A177 that require diocesan participation.
“Resolved, the House of ________________ concurring, That the 77th General Convention removes the mandate that dioceses must participate in the Denomination Health Plan by purchasing health insurance through the Medical Trust/Church Pension Group. All other requirements of A177 passed by the 76th General Convention remain in force.”
The Rev. Joe Ashby, Grace, Mansfield
Ms. Denise Caywood, St. Philip’s, Akron
The Rev. Dr. C. Eric Funston, St. Paul’s, Medina
Mr. Stephen Gracey, St. Luke’s, Cleveland
The Rev. Alan C. James, Bishop’s Staff
Mr. Bill Joseph, New Life, Uniontown
Ms. Susannah Perkinson, Our Saviour, Akron
The Rev. T. Conrad Selnick, St. Christopher’s-by-the River, Gates Mills
The Rev. Dr. Brian Wilbert, Christ Church, Oberlin
The Denominational Health Plan (DHP) as it was enacted and is in the process of being implemented, does not create a common premium across all dioceses, but has individual premiums for each diocese based upon the particular diocese’s demographics, past experience, and local medical costs. In addition, it is expected that each diocese will be self-funding for its insurance costs. Other than a very minimal decrease in administrative costs, there is no financial benefit for dioceses to participate in the DHP because individual dioceses are neither participating in a larger pool of insured individuals from across the Church nor is the cost of insurance distributed across diocesan lines.
The mandate for all dioceses to participate in the DHP through the Medical Trust prevents dioceses from negotiating for equivalent insurance coverage at a lower cost. Congregations and Dioceses cannot afford to relinquish the financial right and responsibility to secure the best insurance at the least expensive cost.
Looking at A177 (at least with an untrained eye), it seems that if the requirement to participate were to be removed, there wouldn’t be much of it left other than good intentions. That, together with the common recognition that it was not universally well received, has us wondering:
1. Is this something we can expect to see more of, or is it something that’s already happened without our having heard, or is Ohio the lone case?
2. To what extent (and considering which factors?) would a diocese stand to realize a cost savings by negotiating on its own rather than within the DHP?
3. If these opinions are so held more generally – or would be when the relevant numbers are run – what happens to the hope for administrative cost savings the DHP is meant to help address? Also, what happens to the negotiating power of a group whose member pool could potentially become reduced so quickly?
4. What else needs to be on the conversational table here?