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Ex-school superintendent suing Fonda-Fultonville to get back old health coverage

Tuesday, May 21, 2013
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— A former Fonda-Fultonville superintendent is taking his old district to court in hopes of getting back the health insurance plan the district replaced.

Glenn Goodale served as superintendent of the Fonda-Fultonville Central School District for three years starting in 2003. During that time, he was covered under an indemnity health insurance plan through the district. His contract guaranteed him continued coverage after his retirement in 2006, but recently the district restructured retiree health benefits.

According to a complaint Goodale filed in Montgomery County Court on Thursday, “this was done unilaterally, without notice to [Goodale] and in violation of [his] contract.”

Based on claims of breach of contract, Goodale is demanding the restoration of his old indemnity insurance.

According to district Treasurer Carey Shultz, Goodale is among a handful of disgruntled retirees.

“He’s the first one to file a suit,” Shultz said, “but there are a few others lining up.”

He explained the source of the problem. At the end of last year, district officials realized Fonda-Fultonville was essentially broke. A half-million dollars had to be cut midyear. Roughly $200,000 of that came from switching 200 district retirees from an indemnity health insurance program to a Preferred Provider Organization.

Under the indemnity plan, the district paid a percentage of health fees for any physician, whereas the current PPO plan limits patients to a network of health care providers. But Shultz said the real sticking point has to do with co-payments.

“A lot of our retirees didn’t used to have co-pays,” he said. “Now if they go to the doctor or buy certain medications they have to take maybe a $20 co-pay.”

The switch, he said, was necessary to patch up the district’s ruined finances. The district is self-insured, which means it pays out claims from a special account rather than paying a separate insurance company for the service.

Old plans like Goodale’s are just too expensive in this day and age, he said. “Insurance companies don’t even write them anymore.”

Like the rest of Fonda-Fultonville’s current employees, Schultz has been on the new plan since 2010, “and I like it fine,” he said.

Shultz could not however comment on the legality of the coverage switch.

A copy of Goodale’s 2003 employment contract filed with court paperwork stated that upon his retirement the district would continue to pay for the plan “last selected by the superintendent.”

He selected a top-notch indemnity plan, which according to court paperwork was “very important” to him and “his right under contract.”

Goodale is seeking a yet-to-be-determined amount of money for time spent under the cheaper PPO program, reinstatement of his previous indemnity program, attorney’s fees and punitive damages against Fonda-Fultonville.

Goodale declined comment on the case, forwarding questions to his attorney, Ronald Schur, who could not be reached for comment.

 
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