N.H. Towns to Get $13.9M Refund

Insurance Group Must Return Surplus Funds

Claremont — Upper Valley municipalities, school districts and other entities that provide employee health insurance through HealthTrust Inc. — formerly known as the Local Government Center — will receive more than $1 million of the $13.9 million being refunded because of overpayments last year.

According to the latest reimbursement calculations, the Claremont School District will receive more than $220,000. In August, the district and other government entities in New Hampshire, received rebates for insurance overpayments made in 2010 and 2011.

Timothy Ball, director of business and finance for Claremont schools, said he was setting the refund for 2010 and 2011 aside because it came too late to be included in this year’s budgeting process.

“I’m not counting that as revenue yet,” he said. “But if the School Board decides they think they want to do that ... we’ll do it.”

The 2012 refund won’t arrive until next September. Ball said it will be up to the School Board whether to return the refunds to taxpayers or use it for other expenditures such as capital projects.

“Right now I’m not planning on using that money,” said Ball.

Other refunds to Upper Valley insurance pool members slated for 2014 include:

∎ $84,908 to the city of Claremont.

∎ $103,946 to the Newport School District.

∎ $84,374 to the town of Hanover.

∎ $129,528 to the city of Lebanon.

The budget impact of the rebates will vary by community. Enfield, for example, will receive more than $20,000 from its 2012 surplus payment. Town Manager Steve Schneider said the refund likely would be rolled over to the following budget as opposed to a direct taxpayer rebate.

HealthTrust — a municipal insurance pool funded by taxpayers, retirees and public employees — was ordered by the state in August 2012 to refund more than $50 million in insurance overpayments from 2010 and 2011. HealthTrust Executive Director Peter Bragdon, a state senator who was formerly the Senate president before resigning due to his role in the organization, said on Tuesday that the decision by the state last year also stipulated that HealthTrust cannot retain more than 15 percent of total claims in surplus and must disperse reimbursements to its members, as opposed to reducing the next year’s rates as was done in the past. The $13.9 million in reimbursements, Bragdon said, represented “everything over that 15 percent.”

“The amounts (of reimbursements) are slightly higher than they would have been otherwise, but there have always been returns in some shape or form,” Bragdon said.

Bragdon said the 2012 surplus is a result of the cost of health care being less expensive than initially anticipated. He added that HealthTrust is currently appealing the ruling from last year and that oral arguments at the state Supreme Court are slated for next week, but the organization is still complying with the ruling nonetheless.

“Although we disagree with the order from the Bureau of Securities Regulation, we are in full compliance with it and these distributions are being made in accordance with its provisions,” he said.

Ben Conarck can be reached at bconarck@vnews.com or 603-727-3213.