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Potential deal between ex-LGC subsidiaries, regulators

New Hampshire Union Leader

July 23. 2014 7:35PM

CONCORD - Former subsidiaries of the New Hampshire Local Government Center may have reached an agreement with state regulators that would forgo a hearing to decide whether the public insurance administrators keep their quasi-government, tax-free status.

The Bureau of Securities Regulation had asked Secretary of State hearing officer Donald Mitchell to revoke the entities’ tax-free status under a state law, RSA 5-b, which allows communities to form risk pools to manage insurance costs for employees and public property. Had the BSR prevailed, the former LGC entities, HealthTrust and Property-Liability Trust, which administer health, property and liability coverage for member towns, villages and school districts, would have been subject to state taxation and regulation by the state Insurance Department.

BSR Director Barry Glennon said terms for a settlement have been offered to the board of HealthTrust and PLT that would would have the BSR withdraw its motion to revoke the entities' quasi-government status.

"We have had lengthy discussions with them about resolution," Glennon said. "The boards are discussing certain terms for resolution."

Glennon said more details about the settlement agreement may be available Thursday.

Peter Bragdon, executive director of HealthTrust, which administers health insurance for tens of thousands of public employees in the state, said the HealthTrust board met in non-public session to discuss the matter on Wednesday. He would not share details of that session, or even whether the board approved of the agreement, except to say that the board, "sealed the minutes of a non-public session until such time as a pleading is filed with (Mitchell) approving or disapproving of the consent decree."

"The wording of the motion strongly indicates that there was something for the board to look at," he said. "It does indicate there was a consent decree. It doesn't say if it was approved or not."

PLT Executive Director Wendy Parker could not be reached for comment.

The BSR request was in response to a secret agreement reached in October and announced after a state Supreme Court ruling in January that, in part, required PLT to return $17.1 million in subsidiaries provided by HealthTrust over the course of 12 years to keep afloat a money-losing workers’ compensation program. Under that agreement, HealthTrust acquired all of PLT's assets and liabilities and announced it was managing a "runoff" of PLT's outstanding obligations.

Until a corporate reorganization last year, the entities were under the corporate umbrella of the LGC.

A deal announced last month would undo the secret agreement and call for PLT to reacquire its assets and liabilities from HealthTrust and repay the $17.1 million. HealthTrust plans to distribute the $17.1 million to its member communities and school districts.

The sides differ on whether the $17.1 million transfer from PLT to HealthTrust should include a $1.7 million interest in the entities’ shared building in Concord and whether PLT effectively shut down when the secret agreement was announced and executed in January.

But, just before hearings were to begin on Monday morning, attorneys from the BSR and HealthTrust and PLT began negotiating a potential settlement agreement. Mitchell postponed the hearings pending a resolution.

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