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Trumbull County’s workers compensation insurance process questioned

WARREN — Trumbull County commissioners voted 3-0 to approve a floor motion made by Commissioner Niki Frenchko to hear from more companies that offer managed care services for county employee injury claims filed through the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation.

Frenchko said she was concerned the human resources director selected a company one day after the open enrollment period began on May 3. The period ends May 28. The county can back out of that agreement, personnel said.

The county should be looking at the presentations other managed care organizations can provide, Frenchko said.

Commissioner Frank Fuda said he told the human resources department last year he wanted to take a closer look when selecting an MCO this year, something the county does every few years.

MCOs serve as a type of “middle man” between the county and the BWC after an employee files an injury claim, managing a worker’s injury and the claims process.

In an often tense meeting with barbs exchanged between Frenchko and Richard Jackson, the director of the county HR department, said the duty was a typical one for the head of HR and that is why he handled it.

The agreements with MCOs do not cost the county money directly, because the companies are paid with BWC premiums, Jackson said. Frenchko disagreed and said it does affect costs because of certain factors.

Frenchko said it was inappropriate for Jackson to have lunch on the dime of a broker who gets a bonus from a company if the county selects the firm.

Jackson said a plate of spaghetti from Salvatore’s wasn’t a bribe and the lunch was an informational meeting about changes in MCO companies after some companies were bought out.

Frenchko said the agreement was signed by Jackson after the lunch; Jackson acknowledged it was.

Commissioner Mauro Cantlamessa said Frenchko should stop focusing on “the boogeyman” and “conspiracy theories” and said HR always handled the issue.

This is a developing story, read more in Thursday’s Tribune Chronicle.

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