By DINA ARÉVALO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
The Port Isabel City Commission met for its regular meeting Tuesday evening. Though the meeting was brief, the commission weighed in on expanding the City’s senior services. It also considered taking a new look at its health insurance provider.
Currently, the City offers limited help to its senior residents via the Port Isabel Senior Center. Interim City Manager Jared Hockema also reminded the commission of Cecilia Zamora, who works on health and wellness for the City via a (Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment) DSRIP grant. The City also has at its disposal a transportation van that can be used to aid senior residents run errands, such as picking up medical prescriptions.
Hockema encouraged the City to seek grant funding to expand its current services via the Senior Services to the Area Agency on Aging. “It would benefit from having more people,” he said. “The more people you have, the more services you can provide.”
Thinking aloud, Hockema wondered if the City is in a position to hire additional people, adding, “So what is a way that we can expand these services and do it at a low cost or no cost to the City?”
Mayor Joe E. Vega expressed enthusiasm for continuing to support Port Isabel’s senior residents, speaking of the City’s annual health fair. He suggested possibly moving the fair to the winter months, when it would also serve Winter Texans.
Hockema advised the commission that many municipalities attempt to earn such grant funding, and that the City might not be one of those recipients. “We may not get it, but if we do, I think it’d be very positive for the City,” he said.
The Commission unanimously passed a motion to apply for the grant.
In other business, Hockema urged the commission to request proposals for the City’s health insurance. Currently, the City is under contract with Allegian Health Plans, Hockema said. The company plans to increase the City’s premiums by between 22 and 26 percent, Hockema told the Commission. “Because of the amount of money that we spend on our health plan, it’s more than $50,000, we need to get bids or proposals,” he said. “We can’t just award it to somebody,” he said.
“Just for the record, we’re also paying for the employees, right?” asked Vega. Hockema replied that the City pays 100 percent of the premiums for its employees.
“I think this increase will trigger us to see what options are out there,” Hockema said. “What’s the best proposal we can get that provides for the employees, but also is a good value to the City?” he asked.
The commission voted to begin seeking such proposals.
Commissioner Juan Jose “J.J.” Zamora was not present at the meeting.
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