Foster May Seek State Probe into City Health Insurance

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Dems2011_Mary Foster head shot_72dpi_1Peekskill Mayor Mary Foster may push for the state Comptroller’s Office to investigate the city’s handling of health insurance coverage over the last 20 years after it was discovered mayoral opponent Frank Catalina has remained on a public employees’ plan 12 years after he quit as Peekskill’s legal counsel.

“I would frankly just like to see the Comptroller’s Office take a look at what was going on since 1990 through 2012 and see if we had other problems and how health insurance was being handled, and have the proper agency sort that out and deal with whoever might be involved with that,” Foster remarked during a work session last week.

“We’re still trying to find out who would have authorized a person to get added to the insurance rolls who is not an active worker or retiree,” Foster said. “It’s clear that (New York State Health Insurance Plan) doesn’t allow it.”

Former City Manager Brian Havranek first made the Common Council aware of Catalina’s health insurance coverage through the city in the spring after the city received a premium check from Catalina. Foster said the city’s labor lawyer reviewed the matter and reported back to the council in July. Since Catalina, an attorney, doesn’t meet the requirements of the health insurance plan, his coverage will be terminated at the end of September, according to new City Manager Anthony Ruggiero.

Comptroller Charles Emberger told the council when city staff looked at the list of employees covered by the state plan Catalina was listed as being an “active” employee.

“There needs to be an investigation of how you get added to insurance,” said Councilwoman Marybeth McGowan.

City policy prohibits the mayor and Common Council from participating in the health insurance offered to employees.

Bringing in the Comptroller’s Office would require a vote from the Common Council, an action Foster said she didn’t anticipate for several months since city officials would be focusing on the upcoming budget. Foster noted an investigation may be hampered by the fact she was told some personnel documents had been shredded in the past by former employees privy to that information.

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