CAPE ELIZABETH — Health-care coverage, benefits and costs for town and school employees will be the focus of the Town Council’s newest committee.

Health insurance coverage costs the town about $3.5 million annually, or about 10 percent of the town’s combined budgets. But according to Town Manager Michael McGovern, “it’s never been looked at holistically.”

The Employee Health Insurance Review Committee, which will include one councilor, one school board member and five members of the public, has been asked to recommend possible changes in coverage provided to employees, changes in coverage providers and for employee-employer cost shares. It could also recommend consolidation of school and municipal health care programs, McGovern said earlier this month.

Though using separate school and municipal employee health plans is common practice for towns and cities across the state, McGovern said it’s worth looking into anything that could save the town money while maintaining the ability to find and keep quality employees.

Pointing out that in order to make changes to health coverage, collective bargaining agreements would have to be modified, McGovern said that this is simply the beginning of a study, and that “nothing is going to happen immediately.”

The committee has been given six months to report back to the Town Council and School Board. Any further decisions would face public process.

Membership applications for this and other committees are available on the town Web site, The School Board has appointed Mary Townsend to the committee; the Town Council has not yet appointed a councilor. Members of the public will be appointed jointly by the Town Council and School Board chairs.

Anyone who sells health-care coverage or works for a company offering coverage cannot participate due to conflicts of interest, although all committee meetings will be open to the public.

Sarah Trent can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 108 or [email protected].

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