FY 2023 EXECUTIVE BUDGET AND GOVERNMENT INSURANCE RENEWAL AGREEMENTS APPROVED IN LEGISLATIVE SESSION

Published: Sep 21, 2022

ST. THOMAS – The 34th Legislature of the Virgin Islands, led by Senate President Donna A. Frett-Gregory, convened into regular legislative session today at the Earle B. Ottley Legislative Hall. Lawmakers considered bills for the Fiscal Year 2023 Executive Budget and heard testimony concerning insurance coverage for employees of the Government of the Virgin Islands.

The body first convened into the Committee of the Whole to take testimony on the following:

• The Fourth Renewal of the Group Medical Health Insurance Agreement between the Government of the Virgin Islands, through the GESC/Health Insurance Board of Trustees, and Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company for Group Health Insurance (OLC No. 3260-2022)

• The Fourth Renewal for the Agreement for Medical Health Insurance between the Government of the Virgin Islands, through the GESC Health Insurance Board of Trustees, and UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company for post-65 retirees (OLC No. 3261-2022)

• The Fourth Renewal of the Group Dental Health Insurance Agreement between the Government of the Virgin Islands, through the GESC/Health Insurance Board of Trustees, and Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company for Group Dental Insurance (OLC No. 3262-2022)

• The Second Renewal of the Agreement between the Government of the Virgin Islands, through the GESC/Health Insurance Board of Trustees, and Standard Insurance Company for Group Life and Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance (OLC No. 3264-2022)

• The First Renewal of the Agreement for Voluntary (Employee-Paid) Critical Illness, Accidental Injury and Hospital Care Insurance between the Government of the Virgin Islands, through the GESC/Health Insurance Board of Trustees and Life Insurance Company of North America for Voluntary (Employee-Paid) Critical Illness, Accidental Injury and Hospital Care Insurance (OLC No. 3265-2022)

• The Third Renewal of the Agreement between the Government of the Virgin Islands, through the GESC/Health Insurance Board of Trustees, and Standard Insurance Company for Group Vision Insurance (OLC No. 3266-2022)

Beverly Joseph, Chairperson of the GESC Health Insurance Board of Trustees delivered testimony on behalf of the board. According to Joseph’s testimony, when the employee, retiree, and government costs for all insurance coverages, including dental, vision, and life were included, it amounted to a 4% increase for the upcoming Fiscal Year. Joseph stated that “total cost” and “enrollment” figures usually exclude active employees of non-General Fund entities that are participants of the Government Employee’s Plan, such as the University of the Virgin Islands, The Virgin Islands Port Authority, the St. Thomas East End Medical Center, the Frederiksted Health Care Center, and the Virgin Islands Housing Authority. The Board is required to solicit competitive bids for the insurance program every five years and bids were last submitted for all benefits in 2011, in 2013 at the Board’s request, and 2018 for the 2019 Fiscal Year. Bids are scheduled to be solicited in 2023 for the 2024 Fiscal Year.

Based on the most recent medical claims expense report through June 2022, medical claim expenditures account for 89% of the medical plans’ premiums, exclusive of other plan expenditures such as administrative costs. This increased from the previous year is due to lower-than-expected losses due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Losses increased 2.4% from the previous period. However, the board anticipated a 5-8% increase in premiums to cover future claims and expenses. The initial medial renewal provided by CIGNA resulted in an increase of 9.8%, which totaled an overall increase of $15.8 million. With negotiations, CIGNA agreed to a 7.1% increase. The initial dental renewal provided by CIGNA resulted in an increase of 7.4%, which resulted in an overall increase of $398,400, and below the 10% rate cap. An overall medical plan increase of 4.9% was approved and inclusive of all participants. Dental plans were not increased for the upcoming plan year. Based on the premiums, the overall medical and dental increase to the Central Government will be about $6.9 Million.

Voluntary vision insurance is offered through The Standard insurance company; however, the Central Government does not make any contribution to this insurance. The Central Government provides basic life insurance, and accidental death and dismemberment coverage to all active and retired employees. Active employees receive a benefit of $10,000 and retirees receive $5,000. The Board negotiated a two-year rate guarantee with The Standard, so there will be no change in the premium for the upcoming Fiscal Year. All health insurance coverages combined will increase from $177.3 million in Fiscal Year 2022 to $184.3 Million in Fiscal Year 2023. This is an increase of about $7 million or 4%. The Legislature absorbed the increase to employees and retirees in Fiscal Year 2022. Employees and retirees are currently paying the same rate that they did in Fiscal Year 2019, 2020 and 2021. The Board is not recommending plan design changes for Fiscal Year 2023.

Senate President Donna Frett-Gregory voiced concern that the insurance renewals were often done at the last minute, stating that the Legislature was at a disadvantage. She stated that the process should be timelier.
Upon conclusion of the Committee of Whole, the Body reconvened into Regular Session to act on the following bills, all of which were voted upon favorably:

• Bill No. 34-0302, an act providing an appropriation from the General Fund of the Treasury of the Government of the Virgin Islands for the operation of the Government of the Virgin Islands during the Fiscal Year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023.

• Bill No. 34-0303, an act providing an appropriation for the operation of the judicial branch of the Government of the Virgin Islands, the Judicial Council, and the Office of the Territorial Public Defender during the Fiscal Year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023.

• Bill No. 34-0304, an act providing an appropriation for the Legislature of the Virgin Islands for the Fiscal Year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023.

• Bill No. 34-0305, an act providing an appropriation for salaries and expenses of the Virgin Islands Board of Elections and the Office of the Supervisor of Elections for the Fiscal Year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023.

• Bill No. 34-0306, an act providing an appropriation from the Anti-Litter and Beautification Fund to the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority and the Virgin Islands Department of Public Works for operating expenses during the Fiscal Year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023.

• Bill No. 34-0307, an act providing an appropriation for the salaries and expenses of the University of the Virgin Islands for the Fiscal Year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023.

• Bill No. 34-0308, an act providing an appropriation for the operating expenses of the Virgin Islands Board of Education from the General Fund of the Treasury of the Virgin Islands during the Fiscal Year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023.

• Bill No. 34-0309, an act providing an appropriation from the Business and Commercial Properties Revolving Fund to the Virgin Islands Department of Property and Procurement for operating expenses for the Fiscal Year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023.

• Bill No. 34-0310, an act providing an appropriation for the operating expenses of the Virgin Islands Career and Technical Education Board from the General Fund of the Treasury of the Government of the Virgin Islands during the Fiscal Year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023.

• Bill No. 34-0311, an act providing an appropriation from the Caribbean Basin Initiative Fund as a contribution to the General Fund of the Treasury of the Virgin Islands for the Fiscal Year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023.

• Bill No. 34-0312, an act providing an appropriation from the Government Insurance Fund of the Treasury of the Government of the Virgin Islands to the Department of Labor and the Department of Finance for operating expenses during the Fiscal Year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023.

• Bill No. 34-0313, an act providing for the lump-sum appropriation from the Health Revolving Fund to the Virgin Islands Department of Health for Fiscal Year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023.

• Bill No. 34-0314, an act providing an appropriation for the operating expenses of the Virgin Islands Hospital and Health Facilities Corporation from the General Fund of the Treasury of the Government of the Virgin Islands for the Fiscal Year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023.

• Bill No. 34-0315, an act providing for a lump-sum appropriation from the Indirect Cost Fund for operating expenses to the Office of Management and Budget, the Virgin Islands Division of Personnel, the Virgin Islands Department of Property and Procurement and the Virgin Islands Department of Finance for the Fiscal Year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023.

• Bill No. 34-0316, an act providing an appropriation for the operating expenses of the Virgin Islands Office of the Inspector General from the General Fund of the Treasury of the Government of the Virgin Islands for the Fiscal Year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023.

• Bill No. 34-0318, an act providing an appropriation from the Virgin Islands Lottery as a contribution to the General Fund of the Treasury of the Government of the Virgin Islands for the Fiscal Year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023.

• Bill No. 34-0319, an act providing an appropriation for the operating expenses of the Public Employees Relations Board and the Virgin Islands Labor Management Committee for the Fiscal Year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023.

• Bill No. 34-0320, an act providing an appropriation for operating expenses of the Waste Management Authority from the Sewer Wastewater Fund of the Government of the Virgin Islands for the Fiscal Year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023.

• Bill No. 34-0321, an act providing an appropriation to the Virgin Islands Taxicab Commission for the Fiscal Year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023.

• Bill No. 34-0322, an act providing an appropriation from the Tourism Advertising Revolving Fund to the Office of the Governor, Virgin Islands Police Department, the Virgin Islands Department of Public Works, the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority, the Virgin Islands Department of Agriculture, and the Virgin Islands Department of Tourism for the Fiscal Year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023.

• Bill No. 34-0323, an act providing an appropriation for the operating expenses of the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority from the General Fund of the Treasury of the Government of the Virgin Islands during the Fiscal Year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023.

• Bill No. 34-0324, an act providing an appropriation for the operating expenses of the Virgin Islands Public Services Commission for the Fiscal Year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023.

• Bill No. 34-0325, an act providing an appropriation from the General Fund of the Treasury of the Government of the Virgin Islands for the operating expenses of the Virgin Islands Board of Nurse Licensure for the Fiscal Year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023.

• Bill No. 34-0326, an act providing an appropriation for the operating expenses of the Virgin Islands Bureau of Motor Vehicles from the Transportation Trust Fund during the Fiscal Year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023.
• Bill No. 34-0327, an act providing an appropriation for the sum of $6,000,000 from the Virgin Islands Insurance Guaranty Fund as a contribution to the General Fund of the Treasury of the Government of the Virgin Islands for the Fiscal Year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023.

• Bill No. 34-0328, an act amending Title 22, Virgin Islands Code, Chapter 10, Section 23.7(a)(3)(A) and title 33, chapter 111, section 3061 relating to the balance in the Virgin Islands Insurance Guaranty Fund to amend the currently required $40,000,000 amount which is set to increase to $50,000,000 on September 30, 2022.
• Bill No. 34-0329, an act providing an appropriation from the Crisis Intervention Fund for the Fiscal Year October 1, 2022, through September 30, 2023.

• Bill No. 34-0332, an act appropriating $570,000 from the St. John Capital Improvement Fund to the Virgin Islands Port Authority to complete repairs and construction at the Loredon Lorence Boynes, Sr. Dock on the island of St. John.

• Bill No. 34-0333, an act appropriating funds from the Virgin Islands Lottery in Fiscal Year 2022 to the Government Employees Retirement System for bonus pay shortfalls from Fiscal Years 2021 and 2022.

• Bill No. 34-0334, an act appropriating funds from the General Fund in Fiscal Year 2022 to the University of the Virgin Islands for the purpose of paying retroactive merit increases to employees who separated from the University during the period of January 1, 1992, through December 31, 1998.

• Bill No. 34-0335, an act reconciling Act Nos. 8474 and 8590 and making various appropriations available until September 30, 2023.; making a correction to Act No. 8578; amending Act No. 8496 appropriating additional funds to the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority; amending Act No. 8476 regarding the Fiscal Year 2022 budget of the Legislature of the Virgin Islands; amending Title 33, Virgin Islands Code, Subtitle 3, Chapter 111, section 3100u to rename the Centennial Special Fund as the Virgin Islands Historical Commemorative Fund and appropriating $1,000,000 from the Communities Facilities Trust Fund to the Virgin Islands Historical Commemorative Fund to fund preparations for the 175th anniversary celebration of emancipation in the Virgin Islands and for other related purposes.

• Bill No. 34-0336, an act amending Title 18, Virgin Islands Code, Chapter 7, Section 158 to increase the compensation of election officers and clerks.

• Bill No. 34-0337, an act appropriating the sum of $679,250 from the St. Croix Capital Improvement Fund to the Virgin Islands Port Authority to be used for the resurfacing of the Gordon Finch Molasses Pier Facility.

• Bill No. 34-0339, an act authorizing the Department of Property and Procurement to set aside a portion of Parcel F, Submarine Base No. 6 Southside Quarter, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands for the Office of Veterans Affairs for the construction of a veterans’ multipurpose center and appropriating a total of $1,500,000 for construction completion.

• Bill No. 34-0294, an act amending Act 8474 to adjust the Fiscal Year 2022 budget to appropriate funds to U.S.V.I. Soccer Federation, Inc., as a grant for additional improvements to the professional soccer field at Plot 23.-I Estate Bethlehem St. Croix, Virgin Islands, to add coverings for the bleachers and a new parking lot and requires the U.S.V.I. Soccer Federation, Inc., to submit a comprehensive development plan for soccer in the Virgin Islands to the Department of Sports, Parks and Recreation and the Department of Property and Procurement for approval prior to commencing the project.

• Bill No. 34-0342, an act approving the Fourth Renewal Agreement between the Government of the Virgin Islands, and Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company for Group Health Insurance; the Fourth Renewal of Agreement between the Government of the Virgin Islands and Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company for Group Dental Insurance; the Fourth Amendment to the Agreement for Group Medical Health Insurance between the Government of the Virgin Islands, and United Healthcare Insurance Company for post 65 retirees; the Third Renewal of Agreement between the Government of the Virgin Islands and Standard Insurance Company for Group Vision Insurance; the Second Renewal of Agreement for Group Life and Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance between the Government of the Virgin Islands Standard Insurance Company; and the First Renewal Agreement for Voluntary (employee-paid) Critical illness, Accidental Injury and Hospital Care Insurance between the Government of the Virgin Islands and Life Insurance Company of North America.

• Bill No. 34-0340, an act appropriating $5,000,000 to the Department of Sports, Parks, and Recreation to fund the completion of the Randall “Doc” James Racetrack on the island of St. Croix.

• Bill No. 34-0341, an act amending Act 8244, Act 8473, and Act 8489 by reducing or deleting a total of $24,000,000 in prior appropriations from the Internal Revenue Matching Fund for the fiscal years 2020, 2021, and 2022 to allow for debt service payments.

Senators present at today’s legislative session included Marvin A. Blyden, Angel L. Bolques, Jr., Samuel Carrión, Dwayne M. Degraff, Novelle E. Francis, Jr., Alma Francis Heyliger, Donna A. Frett-Gregory, Kenneth L. Gittens, Javan E. James, Sr., Franklin D. Johnson, Carla J. Joseph, Milton E. Potter, Janelle K.f Sarauw, and Genevieve R. Whitaker. Senator Kurt Vialet was excused.

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