Men’s Health Month

Image result for health men

As started by the congressional health education program, Men’s Health Month is celebrated across the country in June. The goal of this national observance is to increase awareness about the preventable health problems in men and promote early detection and treatment of disease among boys and men.
This month gives healthcare providers, friends, family, and the media a chance to encourage men to seek regular medical advice for disease and screenings. See what activities are going on in your community that relate to this month and don’t forget to wear blue on the Friday before Father’s day to support the cause! Check out the list of standard exams:

Image result for health men exams

Physical Exam. Needed every year or more often if recommended by your provider. Please talk to your healthcare practitioner to determine how often you should get an exam.

Testicular Exam. As the number one cancer for men between 15-35 years of age it is important to check yourself frequently and discuss an exam with your doctor during your physical exam.

Blood Pressure Screenings. Needed every 2 years unless it is elevated, then it may need to be checked more frequently. Please talk to your healthcare practitioner to determine how often you should be screened.

Cholesterol Screenings. Needed every 5 years unless it is elevated, then it may need to be checked more frequently. Please talk to your healthcare practitioner to determine how often you should be screened.

Diabetes Screenings. Needed if your blood pressure is above 135/80, you have a BMI of over 25 in addition to other risk factors, or you have an out of range glucose or A1C reading.

Dental Exam. Needed 1-2 times per year. Please talk to your healthcare practitioner to determine how often you should get an exam.

Eye Exam. Needed every 2 years or more often if recommended by your provider.

Other. Immunizations, infectious disease. Please talk to your healthcare practitioner to determine how often you should get an exam.

Tom Elliott Selected For Not-for-Profit Leadership Position

Tom Elliott has been selected as the Executive Director, Member Services for the Valley Schools Management Group (VSMG).  VSMG has over 25 years of experience in group purchasing insurance for government entities in Arizona.  Their range of managed trusts and pools include healthcare, dental coverage, workers’ compensation and liability insurance.  The organization has saved their members and taxpayers millions per year in premiums while maintaining high quality benefits.

Tom Elliott, Executive Director, Member Services, VSMG

Tom Elliott, Executive Director, Member Services, VSMG

Tom Elliott started with VSMG on July 1st, after serving with distinction as the Assistant Superintendent for Business Services at the Paradise Valley Unified School District (PVUSD) since 2005.  Tom Elliott has thirty years of executive level experience in auditing, financial management and public administration.  He holds degrees in science, business and accounting and is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).

“I have seen the high quality of staff and services provided by Valley Schools and I am honored to take on this new role in my career in public service.”  Tom Elliott said.  “I look forward to continuing their long tradition of saving money for Arizona members.”

Tom Elliott and his wife Kathy

Tom Elliott and his wife Cathy

Tom Boone, Chairman of the VSMG Board, has long looked upon the possibility of bringing Tom Elliott on board given his proven management abilities and vast experience as a Trustee on various employee benefits Board of Directors.  “Tom Elliott has served in both large and smaller school districts, as an auditor, and is heavily involved in the community.  I can think of no better candidate to have filled this position.”

Tom Boone

Tom Boone

The opportunity arose when Andrea Billings, the Administrator for the Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT) took a new position with Aon/Hewitt Consulting.  Andrea has been working with VSEBT to insure a smooth transition.  As Executive Director, Member Services, Tom Elliott will serve a more comprehensive role, as VSMG continues to improve its service model and reorganize when necessary to maximize service to their members.

“As a CPA, it is exciting for me to join an organization that has had the highest audit ratings possible every year for their entire quarter century of service.”  Tom Elliott pointed out.  “As the insurance market continues to change rapidly, especially in healthcare, it is important to have this long track record of steady, upstanding and open organizations like VSMG to protect their members during these rough waters.”

Tom Elliott is an avid sports enthusiast, coached youth hockey, and has served on many community boards and associations.  Congratulations and best wishes to Tom Elliott in this new position!




New Funeral Planning Service with Life Insurance Plan

The Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT) in partnership with ING is providing the opportunity for all its members to participate in Everest Funeral Planning services.  This is a concierge program that helps the family and loved ones of the recently passed to help them with funeral planning and cost comparisons.  A brochure is linked here:

Everest Price Finder (2)

Often, the process of dealing with the death of a relative is difficult enough, without having to learn all about funeral costs, planning, and learning how to access life insurance benefits.  My wife was conservator of the will for her mother and it took a serious toll on her and the estate disposition took two years to resolve.  When her father died, she had to work for months to get his life insurance policies and funeral arrangements cleared.

everest price finder

This type of service is extremely valuable under those conditions.  It not only helps with the life insurance pay-out, but with the immediate issues of what to do and how to arrange a funeral.  The price finder keeps you from being taken by an unscrupulous operator during your most stressful time.


Congratulations to VSEBT and ING for including this option for their members!

logo vsmg





Planning the Key to Healthcare Savings

Planning is one of the keys to long term healthcare savings.  Each year, the Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT) hosts a planning session in which all of its member organizations participate and are briefed on various issues.  The organization is a professionally managed trust that allows group purchasing options for its members.  This commitment to providing information, a look back, and a look forward, followed by effective planning has consistently reduced costs and saved millions per year for their members.

Tom Boone, VSMG

Tom Boone, VSMG

This year, the following items were briefed on their agenda:

Opening Comments – Tom Boone, Chairman, CEO, Valley Schools Management Group (VSMG)

1.2013/14 and Beyond – Long Range Planning – Lisa Rafferty, Aon/Hewitt

2.Benchmark Data – Dave Petta, Aon/Hewitt
3.Financial Statements and Claims Experience Reports, Andrea Billings, VSEBT
4.Valley Schools Update – Patrick Dittman, (VSMG)
5.Procurement Versus Trust Participation – Options in Insurance Buying, Bill Munch (VSMG) and Andrea Billings (VSEBT)
6.Healthcare Reform – Lisa Rafferty, Aon/Hewitt
Open Discussion
logo vsmg
More organizations should regularly discuss their current performance, upcoming changes, and plan for the future.  Too often organizations do not pay attention to their healthcare or other employee benefits except at renewal time, and then it is a rush to make stop gap decisions to get rising costs under budget.  This may lead to poor choices and pushing more costs onto burdened employees.  Careful planning and discussion and lead to long term strategies, well thought through and explored, that yield much more manageable increase curves over time.
aon hewitt

Healthcare Planning

In today’s healthcare market, with so many changes and the impacts of National Healthcare Reform unclear, it is important for every organization to have proper healthcare planning.  Unfortunately, for most employers, even larger ones, healthcare is something looked at only during renewal time.  Valley Schools Management Group (VSMG) in conjunction with their consultant, Aon/Hewitt, provide annual healthcare planning sessions with the leaders of all their employer organizations.  These include the top executives and the human resource officials so that they can be informed at all times of where healthcare is going, and how to plan for it.  VSMG plans and implements for change on a regular basis for its members, but does not view that as enough.  “We need to make sure all our members stay informed of our efforts, understand the reason for staying ahead of the curve, and approve of the direction we are leading,” said Tom Boone, Chairman and CEO of VSMG.

Tom Boone, VSMG

Tom Boone, VSMG

logo vsmg

Attached here is one such document provided to their members to keep them informed of the ongoing processes at VSMG:

What Does Your Benefits Consultant or Broker Really Do For You?

In these changing times in healthcare and employee benefits, with a slow economy and high unemployment, it is more important that ever to reassess your operations.  One of those is the area of health consultants, or benefit consultants.  As with travel agents, who used to get discounts and plan your trips for you, consultants and brokers are losing in the new changes in healthcare.  Airlines stopped giving discounts to travel agents and paying for free travel.  They could not give you a better a deal than Travleocity, Priceline, Expedia, or a host of other sites.  That is why very few travel agents survived.

In the new employee benefits arena, increasingly brokers are challenged to provide savings you could not get in your own market.  Some try to complicate matters or keep their clients in the dark about what they do.  Brokers can get anywhere from 1% to 20% or more depending on the size of the contract, the type of employee benefit, and the incentives they have to place business with certain insurers.  “Free brokers” still get paid, but they get paid by the insurers.  That being the case, do you really think they are working for you?  Or for those who pay them?  As the market consolidates and National Healthcare Reform is implemented, many brokers and consultants will go away, unless they have some new value added.

That is why I am so impressed with the new model of purchasing cooperatives.  They work exclusively for their members, not the insurers.  They are able to negotiate huge group discounts with insurance carriers, and hire their own consultants that work for them and are not allowed to take any compensation or incentives from carriers.  The Valley Schools Management Group (VSMG) is one such purchasing group, and perhaps one of the best in the country, saving their members million in premiums and overhead costs per year.

The VSMG does not hide its practices behind a veil of secrecy like the Wizard in The Wizard of Oz.  On the contrary, they hold quarterly benefits meetings, board meetings, do presentations at each member site, hold an annual information conference, report regularly and openly on their audited financials, investments and expenditures, and even have an annual study session to explain to each member organization exactly what they are doing.  Here is a Power Point from one such recent meeting.  Does your broker or consultant do this for you?  In this case VSMG, run by Tom Boone, hires Aon/Hewitt as their consultant for the trust, Aon/Hewitt being the largest benefits consultant in the world.

QEB 03272012 revised

How would you like this type of in depth reporting a dozen or more times every year?  If so, contact Sheri Gilbert at 623-594-4370.

Paradise Valley Unified School District Saves nearly $650,000 per year in Employee Benefits Fixed Costs!

Paradise Valley Unified School District Saves nearly $650,000 per year in Employee Benefits Fixed Costs!

At a presentation on November 1, 2012 at the Paradise Valley Unified School District (PVUSD) made by the Valley Schools Management Group (VSMG), it was shown that PVUSD is saving nearly $650,000 per year in employee benefit fixed costs alone through its membership in a group purchasing trust.  By group purchasing, fixed costs are reduced dramatically.  PVUSD is also self-insured, which means it only pays for the actual cost of paid medical claims, it does not pay any carrier or organization any extra profits, add-ons, or “wiggle room” pricing on its claims.  This saves them even more money, as the medical claims are about 90% of the expenditures, while the fixed costs are only 10%.  Kudos to the administration and Governing Board of PVUSD for their outstanding decision to save dollars on benefits in order to keep precious resources for teachers, staff and dollars in the classroom!

Here is an attachment of the power point presentation:

PVUSD presentation 11-1-12 – FINAL

The PVUSD Governing Board Members:

Governing Board Members
Sue Skidmore Dr. Sue M. Skidmore, Governing Board president 
Sue Skidmore earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Mount Union College and a Master’s degree from Youngstown State University.  She also holds a doctorate in educational leadership from Arizona State University.  Dr. Skidmore has been a public school teacher, high school principal, and school district superintendent and has taught at the university level.  Additionally, she is the founder of a Web-based company that specializes in enhancing grammatical and writing skills and has co-authored three English reference books.  She has been actively involved in the district’s United Parent Council, serving two years as its co-president.  Dr. Skidmore is in her third term on the Governing Board and has served three years as Board president.  She has two daughters who are graduates of PV schools.  Her term expires in December 2012.

Julia Bacon Mrs. Julie BaconGoverning Board member 
Julie Bacon earned a bachelor’s degree from Shippensburg University (Shippensburg PA) and a master’s degree from Virginia Commonwealth University (Richmond VA) in social work.  She and her husband have a steadfast commitment to education in raising their two children, one who graduated from, and one currently attending, a Paradise Valley Unified School District school.  Mrs. Bacon served as president of the United Parent Council and has actively volunteered in the district for more than a decade in many different leadership capacities.  She is currently a member of the district’s Community Legislative Network.  As the daughter of two public school teachers and first generation college graduates, education is a top priority in her family. Her term will run through December

Nancy Case Mrs. Nancy Case, Governing Board member 
Nancy Case received a Bachelor of Science degree in Retailing from Brigham Young University in 1978. She and her husband, Art Case, are the parents of seven children, ages 6 to 26. All of their children have either graduated from or are currently attending Paradise Valley schools. Mrs. Case has enjoyed volunteering in her children’s schools. She has also tutored many students and taught reading classes in her home. She loves to teach. Her term will run through December 2012.

Anne Greenberg Mrs. Anne Greenberg, Governing Board member 
Anne Greenberg earned a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from Northwestern University.  She is co-owner and executive vice president of Health & Medical Multimedia, as well as the editor of two publications for the American College of Cardiology. The webmaster for the United Parent Council, Mrs. Greenberg is a member of the district’s Community Legislative Network and has served on numerous district and school committees. She also is a member of the state board of the Arizona Academic Decathlon Association and of the Legislative Committee and Arizona Relations Network for the Arizona School Boards Association, which honored Mrs. Greenberg with an All-Arizona School Board award in 2011. Mrs. Greenberg and her husband, Rick McGuire, have two sons, one who graduated from and one who currently attends Paradise Valley schools. Her term will run through December 2012.

Mark Lane Mr. Mark Lane, Governing Board member 
Mark Lane owns a photography business, and studied business administration and accounting at Phoenix College, University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University. He and his wife, Debbie, have a daughter who attends a Paradise Valley school and two daughters who graduated from NAU and ASU. Lane is a Shadow Mountain High School alumnus and has been an active volunteer in the district and community through school council, United Parent Council and Little League. His term will run through December 2014.

Governing Board Secretary
Terri Calascibetta
Superintendent’s Office
602-449-2292 Fax

 e-mail Governing Board



Valley Schools Management Group to Present at ASBO International Meeting

Valley Schools Management Group to Present at ASBO International Meeting

 Bill Munch and Andrea Billings of the Valley Schools Management Group (VSMG) will each be presenting seminars at the Annual ASBO International Conference being held this year in Phoenix, Arizona.  ASBO stands for the Association of School Business Officials, and is an organization dedicated to working together by state and nationally, and internationally to keep school districts up to date on laws, training and opportunities for excellence.


Andrea Billings

Bill Munch

This is a treat to have the conference here in our home state from October 12-15, 2012.  Bill Munch will discuss important issues and opportunities in procurement while Andrea Billings will discuss savings opportunities through group purchasing of employee benefits.

2012 ASBO International Annual Meeting & Exposition

In a world that is increasingly “virtual,” sometimes there is just no substitute for face-to-face conversation and engagement. That’s what the Annual Meeting & Expo (AM&E) is all about. ASBO International’s AM&E brings together more than 1,200 school business leaders for a premier professional development experience. The AM&E is one of the most effective ways to advance your knowledge and skills to make a difference for student education.

Valley Schools’ Annual Conference Features Steven Masley, M.D.

Each year an organization known as the Valley Schools Management Group (VSMG) holds an annual conference for their membership in order to present new ideas on saving money on health care through wellness programs, workers’ compensation, group purchase of insurance, utility management, procurement and a range of other topics.  In the past, the conference has featured guest speakers including Congressman John Shadegg, Dr. Andrew Weil the wellness guru, and Dr. Nick Yphantides, author of My Big Fat Greek Diet.  This year the featured speaker will be Dr. Steven Masley, author of Ten Years Younger.


Have you wondered, How Old Are You, Really?  You know what’s written on your birth certificate, but as you’re aware your chronological age may not match your biological age.  you are invited to hear a presentation by Steven Masley, M.D., a physician whose work has been featured on the Discovery Channel, the Today Show, and over 200 media interviews. His program, Ten Years Younger is scientifically proven to work, with results published in multiple peer reviewed medical journals.

The Ten Years Younger Program is designed to combat the roots of accelerated aging. Poor nutrition, toxins in the environment, stress, and exposure to free radicals all make us old before our time, along with a little-known aging culprit: low- and no-carb diets.

“Dr. Masley shows us how we can take control of the aging process. Follow this simple ten-week plan, and you’ll find yourself getting younger, day by day.”
– Mehmet Oz, M.D.

Steven Masley, M.D. is a board and fellow certified family physician and nutritionist, author, speaker, and award-winning patient educator. His research focuses on the impact of lifestyle choices on aging, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, cognitive function, menopause, and weight control. His passion is empowering people to achieve optimal health through comprehensive medical assessments and lifestyle changes.

You have a chance to see Dr. Masley in person at the 5th Annual Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust Conference on October 5th at the Pointe Hilton Resort at Squaw Peak. He will be discussing the positive impact of a healthy lifestyle not only for your physical well-being, but for your pocketbook as well. A question and answer session will follow his presentation. The conference begins at 8:00 am. Breakfast and lunch will be provided, as well as an opportunity to get a free blood panel screening! Join us in our quest for a healthier you!

Attendees will receive a free copy of Dr. Masley’s book, Ten Years Younger.

Please RSVP to Rebecca McGonigle:






Rebecca McGonigle
Wellness Coordinator, VSEBT
PO Box 41760
Phoenix, AZ 85080-1760
623-594-4370 x3020

623-594-4375 fax


Arizona Rural Schools Association Conference – Working Together to Save Money

The Arizona Rural Schools Association (ARSA) brings together Arizona rural school officials each year to pool their resources in facing challenges unique to non-urban and often smaller school districts.  Their small size means each of them has to wear multiple hats and keep in touch with more areas of legal changes and responsibilities than a manager from a larger district who may be able to specialize more.  By meeting together for annual training, they can network best solutions while hearing specialized training otherwise unavailable to many of them.

This year’s conference was held from September 20-22, 2012 and named appropriately, “Constructing Greatness.”  Among the many informational speakers was keynote speaker Flip Flippen, author of the author of the New York Times and USA Today best seller, The Flip Side:  Break Free of the Behaviors That Hold You Back, released in May of 2007.

Flip Flippen, Best selling author and keynote speaker at ARSA

In addition, they had speakers on a number of topics including Bill Munch of the Valley Schools Management Group (VSMG) speaking on ways to save money and stay compliant on procurement issues.  Recently, the Valley Schools Management Group (VSMG) a group purchasing organization serving the public sector, hired Bill Munch to work on procurement issues.  VSMG, run by Tom Boone, offers Bill Munch to other organizations to assist them in their purchasing needs and information.

Bill Munch graduated from Arizona State University in 1988 with a Bachelor of Arts in Purchasing and Materials Management.  He has received certification as a Certified Purchasing Manager (C.P.M.) and Certified Professional Public Buyer (CPPB).  He was the first President of the Greater Phoenix Purchasing Consortium of Schools (GPPCS), a purchasing cooperative comprised of over fifty school districts in Arizona.  He has also served as Vice President and is currently Membership Officer of GPPCS.  He has dedicated his entire career to the topic of public procurement and has a flawless record.

Bill currently serves on the Arizona Association of School Business Officials (AASBO) Board of Directors as Treasurer and is a certified Arizona Community College Instructor that regularly teaches the AASBO 4-Day Purchasing Classes and “Purchasing for Users”.  He is a member of the Capitol Chapter of the National Institute of Governmental Purchasing (AZNIGP), has served on various committees and regularly presents at their conferences.  Bill has always been an active procurement advocate for Arizona public procurement entities.

Bill Munch

Congratulations to ARSA on another year, working together, to save money and resources!