[Editor's Note: This story has been updated to reflect new information supplied by the Lafayette Consolidated Government.]
Faced with a long list of problems surrounding its selection of a group health plan provider, the Lafayette Parish School Board instead zeroed in during Wednesday’s meeting on the most minute of the issues to emerge during this year’s selection process.
The board, despite so many unanswered questions, has opted to get a legal opinion on the validity of its Oct. 2 vote awarding the group benefits contract to Key Benefit Administrators and whether it was in line with Robert’s Rules of Order since the agenda item was moved from introductory to action without a two-thirds majority vote.
LPSB's insurance consultant Rina Tikia
Sure, following proper meeting procedures is a must, but in the case of this year’s renewal process, Wednesday’s decision addresses the least problematic of the issues to emerge since July, when the original Request For Proposals was sent out.
If the requested legal opinion comes back saying the board’s Oct. 2 vote was legit and KBA is awarded the contract, here are a few of the questions that will have been left unanswered:
• Why were six companies disqualified for submitting bids without an aggregate quote, when the original RFP did not call for an aggregate quote?
• Why was Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana disqualified, but then allowed back into contention, so-say as a “courtesy,” while the other disqualified companies remain disqualified?
• Why did Rina Tikia, the board’s hired consultant, not reveal to the public that she also was an independent insurance agent?
• Why has the board not hammered down a firm contract with Tikia? And if it does approve her suggested $200,000 flat rate fee, isn't that a little expensive considering the Lafayette City-Parish Council recently went through the same insurance selection process and paid its consultant $108,500 ($64,500 for the preparation and issuance of the RFP and $44,000 for evaluating the eight proposals submitted).
• Why did Tikia not just revise and reissue an RFP explicitly asking for an aggregate quote?
Selecting the school system’s insurance provider is a big decision, worth millions, and considering KBA’s claim of $8 million in savings compared to the bid submitted by Blue Cross has not been substantiated or vetted raises even more questions, the most pertinent coming from a group of retired LPSS teachers: Why not restart the process? Because it seems if Tikia would have had her way from the start, there would have only been one option for the board to consider: KBA.
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