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PISD weighs 'phone doctor' program for employees

PISD_04-14-BudgetParis Independent School District could pay $37,000 for a program that would allow employees to call a hotline and talk to a doctor.

“For those of us who have had to go to a high-deductible plan, this is an affordable alternative,” Business Manager Tish Holleman said. “If you use it appropriately, it can save you money.”

The program, offered through an insurance cooperative PISD belongs to, is called MD Live. Rather than make a trip to a doctor out of network or the emergency room after hours, patients or parents could call in for routine problems such as sinus and ear infections.

“If it’s some oddball thing, they’re going to say, ‘Go to the doctor,’” Holleman said.

The district can purchase it for all employees at $5 per person per month at a cost of $37,440, or make it available to individuals for $10 per month.

Trustee Dr. Bert Strom asked her to find out about the program’s credentials and what pediatricians were on call, as a brochure said they were “local.” There are a lot of “suspect” programs out there, he said.

“This is a very popular venue now for medicine, and you’re going to see more of them,” Strom said. “We want to tell our employees this is a good benefit.”

“As an employee with a high-deductible plan, we are in the eighth month, and I am nowhere near meeting my deductible,” High said.

The discussion came as part of Monday’s budget workshops. The numbers are still in flux as the budget is a work in progress.

“We’re still to the good. I’m going through line by line to see what can be tweaked,” Holleman said. “So far, it’s an estimate.”

PISD should get an estimate of tax values by next month’s board meeting. The certified rolls do not come in until July.

Holleman put in a 25-cent raise for hourly employees, such as maintenance and secretaries, to show the impact to the budget. In prior months, the numbers have only included teachers and aides. Next month could see estimates for a pay scale for administrators.

Superintendent Paul Jones asked to see if the budget could support a new school bus, which PISD has not bought in several years. Holleman said that conversation is still ongoing, so to date she has put in numbers for a “previously loved” school bus.

On revenue, the Medicare estimate is up $25,000 to $225,000 in the working budget. This year, PISD figured it would bring in $200,000 for services charged to Medicare that district staff provide to students, but the revenue has exceeded estimates. The district plans to start filing for reimbursement for indirect services, such as administrative costs, which could total $5,000.

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