The Olympia Law Enforcement and Fire Fighter (LEOFF) Disability Board is contemplating reevaluating its medical and dental reimbursement policy to improve the implementation of the reimbursement process while accommodating members’ needs.
Despite the non-compliance to the requirements, the board approved a request for reimbursement of a member worth $3,012.60 that covered dental work, including an implant and crown.
According to LEOFF staff Debbi Hufana, the member did not seek pre-approval before receiving services.
Board member Steve Cooper pointed out that in the policy, anything above $2,000 needs to be pre-approved unless it is an emergency.
Hufana also mentioned an outstanding charge of $200 for X-rays dating back to June 2022. According to the policy, requests for reimbursement must be submitted within one year of receiving dental services.
"He was unaware of the policy because they [members] don't read it. We are trying to reiterate that and highlight it in the policies when I send it out," Hufana told the board members.
This case launched a debate among the board members about the policy and its implementation.
Councilmember and LEOFF Chair Jim Cooper admitted that the board had shown leniency and set a precedent in approving post-service requests even if the member did not adhere to the policy, such as not seeking approval or authorization for the dental treatment in advance or requesting reimbursement after more than a year had passed.
While he believed the policy was not being abused, LEOFF board member Russ Gies encouraged his colleagues to take some actions or consider strictly implementing the policy.
"We do our darndest to bend over for the member,” Gies said. “There have been times that we were frustrated and probably could have cut it.”
"We have always given them the benefit of the doubt,” added Gies.
The board members agreed to review the dental reimbursement policy, which could include setting clear timelines for submission and guidelines for post-service approvals.
Another board member, Mark Hansen, suggested improving communication with members regarding policy updates.
Whenever they revised the policy, Hufana said she sent the updated one by email to all members. She also offered to send them a printed copy to their mailing address.
"I don't think policies are a top 10 seller that people want to read about and go through. I used to write them 30 to 40 [pages], and nobody would read them. I don't even read my own," Hansen quipped but asked the board to consider sending a one-page summary highlighting essential information, such as requirements or conditions for pre-approval for medical and dental procedures.
"Everybody will read a page. But they won't read 26 pages of legal jargon," Hansen added.
The chair directed Hufana to coordinate with Kellie Braseth, Olympia Strategic Communications director, and her team to summarize all the policy information into possibly 10 bullet points.
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