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WEB EXCLUSIVE: Task force meeting kicks off with heated discussion

During the St. Joseph County Health and Worker's Compensation/Casualty Insurance Task Force Meeting Wednesday morning, two members got into a heated discussion over preferred providers.

Wednesday's meeting was the eighth meeting of the task force, which includes county commissioners, county council members and the county auditor.

The task force is working to find the best way to make sure the county provides employees with health insurance in a cost-effective way.

At the beginning of the meeting, County Commissioner Dave Thomas questioned the term "preferred provider" and got into a heated discussion with County Auditor Michael Hamann.

Hamann told ABC57 before this exchange happened, Thomas was upset he had not been invited to any of the previous task force meetings. Hamann says he was invited.

"Commissioner Thomas was angry because I called him out for saying he was not asked to participate in the insurance task force which was formed in November 2017.  We have a trail of emails showing that he was, in fact, invited to participate," Hamman said in an email to ABC57.

We have reached out to Thomas for comment but have not received a response yet.

The video of the heated exchange recorded by ABC57 is posted above and a transcript is below.

COMMISSIONER THOMAS: You've interrupted me again
AUDITOR HAMANN: (Unintelligible) You've never known...
THOMAS: If you don't get your way. You pout like a five year old
HAMANN: I have…
THOMAS: And you don’t even have a vote on most of these issues as an auditor. You're not a councilman, you're not a commissioner.
HAMANN:  I, I'm not sure, I…
THOMAS: And you always like to steer and instigate things
HAMANN:  I'm not
THOMAS: If you would just sit back and do your job and not interrupt when people are talking…
HAMANN: You…
THOMAS: No you're used to other people who let you have your way. I'm not a person who does that. I think you've been in business with me the government a few years that you should know that so I'm commenting that the gentleman asked me to comment.
HAMANN:  I'm trying to…
THOMAS: Then why do you interrupt?
HAMANN:  I’m trying…
THOMAS: Why do you interrupt. Why do you interrupt?  You can't control yourself? Is that the answer? If that's the answer…
HAMANN: I tried to give you context Dave…
THOMAS: Okay well I don't need you to interrupt me
HAMANN: You don't know. You're talking and you're
THOMAS: No I definitely don't need you interrupting? Okay?
HAMANN:  Are you done?
THOMAS: Are you done interrupting me?
HAMANN:  I'll let you speak, keep going
THOMAS: Oh I will always speak and I don't need your permission. Okay? So once again you've uh, what is that proper word? Let's see? Well let's skip the proper word. Yesterday, you said I've invited these imaginary meeting and you've done it again today. If what's that in something the word but anyway. The bottom line is you interrupt, you try to distract from the topic, okay? And that's a poor political strategy, okay? You're always trying to steer your agenda, and I don't know what your motives are because they are certainly never productive to whatever is the goal of the meeting, okay?
HAMANN: Can I comment?
THOMAS: I, are you done interrupting me? You keep interrupting me
HAMANN:  I waited and I thought that was kind of a pregnant pause and…
THOMAS: Cause I was trying to answer the gentleman's question
HAMANN: We have…
THOMAS: So it's not a pregnant pause, what does pregnancy mean?
HAMANN: Alright, Dave, with all due respect…
THOMAS: Am I pregnant? Are you pregnant?
HAMANN: Maybe
THOMAS: Is there something wrong with being pregnant?
HAMANN: Dave, in all due respect
THOMAS: Am I fat? I mean what does this pregnancy have to do with  (unintelligible)
HAMANN:  Troy has been asked by this
THOMAS: You just can't stop interrupting me can you?
HAMANN:  You stopped…
THOMAS: You still have to keep talking
HAMANN: I…
THOMAS: Okay, Michael thank you for stopping. Anyway, for those of you who haven't seen it I will certainly share copies or have someone make copies for you. So it's obviously a hotbed issue at local hospitals. It's a hotbed issue with the citizens who rely on local hospitals for health care and here in St. Joseph County we do have two facilities. We're not a one horse town , we are a two horse town. So again I ask, you know, preferred by whom?
HAMANN:  Can I address that?
UNKNOWN: Certainly
HAMANN: Months ago R&R (Benefits) was tasked with finding cost savings by this group, by this task force. One of which was this ACO option. That's why they're doing this. So no one is preferring anything. All they're, all R&R Benefits is doing, is doing some discovery. They're bringing their facts back to the committee to make a decision. That's why they're doing this. No one is preferring anything. No one's making any decisions about anything. They're doing what this committee asked them to do.
THOMAS: Okay
HAMANN: That's all I wanted to tell you.
THOMAS: So is the word preferred a typo?
R&R REPRESENTATIVE: No
HAMANN: No. They're being asked by the committee to try to come up with some savings. Okay? We're trying to contain costs. What are some ways to contain costs? That's what R&R is doing. They've done a good job trying to lay out things
THOMAS: Are…
HAMANN:  That's why they're bringing this. They're not making a decision. No one is preferring anything. You all are going to make the decision. They're just trying to provide the facts.
FEMALE: Is this similar to what you would call a preferred provider option plan basically?
R&R: Yes
FEMALE: That's what we had at IU so I understand…

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