CATS health account frozen after bus system falls behind on bills again
BATON ROUGE - Employees working at the Capital Area Transit System learned that their health reimbursement accounts were frozen because the public bus system did not pay its bills.
This is the second time that has happened. WBRZ exposed in April that employees' health insurance lapsed for two days after bills were not paid.
The most recent problems involve the Health Reimbursement Account. The benefits can be used for things like co-pays, dental, vision and to cover deductibles.
Sources at CATS said employees who tried to use their cards were denied. When they contacted the benefits administrator, that person told them CATS was delinquent on their bills.
WBRZ learned invoices dated 11/9/21, 2/9/22 and 3/9/22 were not paid. As a result of that, Infinisource froze CATS accounts until they received payments. Sources at CATS said the benefits company apparently notified CATS 60 days in advance of the account being labeled inactive, but nothing was done and CATS did not respond.
In March, the WBRZ Investigative Unit exposed the agency's comptroller tested positive for drugs. John Cutrone failed a random drug screen when he tested positive for methamphetamine in January. CATS did a follow-up test nearly two weeks later with a split sample to confirm the first test. The results were the same.
The amount considered a positive is 500. Cutrone's level of methamphetamine was 3,233.
That is also backed up by an internal CATS document sources provided to the WBRZ Investigative Unit.
"Methamphetamine does not have any medications or prescriptions to support an individual medical condition for taking this illegal drug or gives a reason for these drugs appearing in your body," the department noted.
In a recorded phone call, a benefits administrator told a CATS employee it notified the agency before freezing the account.
"We sent an email out about it, and we didn't receive an email back within 60 days, so once we don't receive anything our finance department marked the account inactive until we receive payment."
CATS issued the following response to Wednesday's story.
"One of the many comprehensive benefits CATS offers to their employees is a Health Reimbursement Account (HRA), which can be used to cover certain medical expenses such as co-pays and prescriptions. Late yesterday afternoon, we were informed of an issue with the employee benefit cards linked to the HRA. We immediately took all steps necessary to resolve this temporary interruption. CATS is current on all payments to our HRA vendor and all employee benefit cards are active at this time."
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