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This is a follow-up to my two emails yesterday regarding Colonial Life and MJ Consulting Groups. We have now confirmed that these two entities are coming into our schools under false pretenses. Originally, they were supposed to work with employees to help them transition from the SEHBP to the new Paterson Self-Insurance Plan. At no point did the Union have any foreknowledge that these entities also intended to sell to our members life and disability insurance.

We strongly recommend that you DO NOT purchase any of these products or services from either Colonial Life or MJ Consulting. Neither of these groups is an approved PEA or NJEA vendor. We work hard to vet any potential group that would have access to your personal and financial information to ensure that they will treat you with dignity and respect. AFLAC and Prudential are approved vendors because they have been vetted with these standards. We can not vouch for the financial integrity of either Colonial Life or MJ Consulting.

As you know, with any untrusted organization that possesses your social security number, home address, and dependent information this could cause HAVOC for you and your family. Do NOT place yourself in any unnecessary risk by purchasing life insurance, disability insurance, or any other product with Colonial Life or MJ Consulting. While we do NOT recommend that you meet with these groups, if you must, please limit your conversation solely to the topic of health benefits.

Since it is our understanding that these entities were invited here by the Business Administrator, Mr. Richard Mathews, we also request that you contact him first since he is so interested in the welfare of our employees and our families well being. His phone number is listed below in yellow along with other employees that have the trust and experience to handle health benefit issues (and currently work for the Paterson Public Schools).

I just received a letter from the District stating that before the end of the school year, the District is ‘ contemplating’ a move out of the ‘ S chool Employee Health Benefits Plan’ (SEHBP) into a ‘self-insured’ medical insurance plan. To be clear, the District has the legal right to change carriers. However, they can only do so if they maintain the same level of medical benefits. While the district has stated it intends to maintain the same level of benefits, know that this is not a move that the Union supports. More than that, however, we find this to be a very risky proposition for the reasons listed below:

• We have consulted with many experts, and all are in agreement that self-insurance for a District with the size and experience rating of Paterson is a risky move. There is a strong probability that after one/two years of self-insurance, the District will be forced to return to the SEHBP because the cost of self-insurance will become cost prohibitive to maintain that arrangement.

• In 2015, you may recall that the District changed the prescription carrier from Express Scripts to Benecard ( this serves as an example and is unrelated to the aforementioned proposed change) the District handled the role out very poorly. The Union fielded hundreds of phone calls from members with issues ranging from missing prescription cards to not being able to fill a prescription. I personally fielded and resolved hundreds of calls for service. Take it from me, it was a chaotic mess that took months to resolve.

• At this point, the Union hasn’t been advised whether the new doctor networks in a self-insured medical plan will be the same as the existing doctor networks in the SEHBP. In short, we have been provided with very little information. Thus, we are not yet aware if your doctors will participate in the change that the district is contemplating. This gives our members precious little time to ensure that there is not a disruption of service.

• In 2010, the city of Paterson transitioned to a self-insurance plan for all municipal employees. At that time, the cost of medical benefits was $29 million dollars. In the year 2017, even while the number of municipal employees decreased, the cost of medical benefits jumped by 80% under a self-insured plan to $52.5 million dollars. Not surprisingly, the city is rumored to be transitioning back into the State Health Benefits Plan as soon as possible.

This plan hatched by business administrator Mr. Richard Matthews is both penny wise, but pound foolish. At this time, we do not have any further information regarding this proposed change. Since the District placed the Union on notice, we thought that it was only fair to alert our members as soon as possible.

We urge you to contact Paterson Public Schools business administrator, Mr. Matthews at rlmatthews@ paterson.k12.nj.us and implore him not to change our insurance carrier! We cannot afford any further chaos in this District. When further details about the District’s plan become available, we will pass along the information.