kept on city insurance at no cost
Terminated in September 2011, former police chief used Ishpeming health coverage until December 2012 - while he
proceeded with city law suit
ISHPEMING - The city of Ishpeming continued to pay the health insurance premiums for two former Ishpeming Police Department officers, including those of former Ishpeming Police Chief Jim Bjorne while he was in the process of suing the city.
, who was terminated in September 2011, filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the city that December.
and the city settled the suit in August.
Former Ishpeming Police Chief Jim Bjorne was one of the city employees left on the city's health insurance after his retirement.
continued to use the health coverage during this time and while he
was suing the city. (Photo courtesy Ed Anderson)
confirmed to The Mining Journal
was one of the former police officers described in the report.
The city could not comment on whether Bjorne
was one of the officers, due to protections of the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
The city paid for Bjorne's
health insurance from his
termination in September 2011 until December 2012, just after the Ishpeming City Council
discovered at the end of that November that the city had overpaid a total of almost $200,000 in health insurance premiums for Bjorne
and seven other employees over a period of two and a half years.
and another Ishpeming Police Department
officer, who retired in May 2010, were covered by benefits provided under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act
was entitled to enroll in COBRA benefits and did so, but was not billed, nor did he
make any payments for his
was not a retiree, the city was not responsible for any of his
premiums - but paid them for 15 of his
The report stated that Bjorne
"should have been aware that he
was responsible for payment since he
was using the health care coverage," but said his
"receipt of city-paid health insurance after his
employment ended has not been addressed."
"When I left the city - when I was fired - on the 23rd of September, I knew what COBRA
was and how it worked and I intended on taking advantage of that for health care until I could figure out what I was going to do," Bjorne
emailed Keto and asked her
what was the situation with his
health insurance, because he
wanted to make certain that he
was still covered.
said that he
got an email back several days later saying that he
would be contacted, but never was.
"Time continued, I would still get explanation of benefits (notices) and when I'd go to the doctor they'd still accept my Blue Cross (Blue Shield) payments, so I just felt that the city was going to pay those until my (lawsuit) was resolved," Bjorne
"I felt I did my obligation to say, 'Where do we go with this?'"
also said after his
initial contact with the city about his
COBRA benefits, he
lawyer, Jonny L. Waara, who was representing him in his
lawsuit against the city, about what he
should do next.
Waara's advice was to "sit tight" and wait for the city to respond, which Bjorne
said is exactly what he
In December 2012 Bjorne
received a letter from the city stating that they had paid his
premiums for the past 15 months and that if he
wanted to continue his
would have to submit premium payments to the city in the monthly amount of $1,482 for the next three months of his
did so through April 1, when his
COBRA eligibility expired.
In August, Bjorne settled his suit with the city for $70,000 - which was covered by the city's insurance - and an agreement to accept a transfer of Bjorne's retirement benefits from his three years working at the Marquette County Sheriff's Office, though Bjorne is required to pay for any deficiencies in the county benefits out of his own pocket.
The Marquette County Board
voted unanimously Tuesday to allow Bjorne
to transfer his
benefits from the county to the city.