School Board Member Calls For Investigation Into Abuse of Cosmetic Surgery Insurance

1:49 PM, Oct 28, 2010   |    comments
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BUFFAlO, N.Y.  - At a time when the Buffalo School District is looking at a big deficit and possible layoffs, a school board member says the cost of a pricey perk has skyrocketed by 800%.

"We can't afford it, we just can't afford it," said Buffalo School Board member Chris Jacobs.

Jacobs is calling for an investigation into how your money is being spent on cosmetic surgery after these numbers from the Buffalo Control Board.

In 2009, there were 8,008 cosmetic procedures done on union members for a total cost of $8.9 million dollars.

"That's a significant amount of expenditures considering we're being forced to lay off teachers and lay off other critical staff," said Jacobs.

Jacobs is also calling out a small number of employees he says could be abusing this benefit.

"Approximately 90 percent of all services are skin tissue procedures and chemical peel face procedures," Jacobs said.

Control board data shows 500 people used the cosmetic surgery benefit, just five-percent of the 10,000 people eligible.

Eight doctors account for 95-percent of the billings. One doctor received about half of that $8,000,000 alone.

"It's an 800% increase since 2004, $8 million, do you think that's right?" 2 On Your Side's Josh Boose asked Buffalo Teacher's Federation President Phil Rumore.

"Well, depending on what it's for you don't know what it's for," he said. "Our teachers are getting older and a lot of the women are coming up with, cancer and cancer is very prevalent in this profession so unless you know the specifics or what it's for, I don't know."

Rumore says they're willing to give the cosmetic surgery rider up when a new contract between the district and the teachers union is agreed upon. But teachers haven't had a contract in six years.

"What would you say to the person sitting at home that maybe lost their job over the last year and they say, my gosh, taxpayers are paying for $8,000,000 of cosmetic surgery, an 800% increase, that's ridiculous, we shouldn't have to pay for that!" Boose asked Rumore.

"Teachers are taxpayers too, so we're paying too," asked Rumore.

This year the district faces a $31 million deficit. Jacobs says if fraud or abuse is found, he wants to see the money paid back. The cosmetic surgery rider has been part of the Buffalo Teacher's Union contract for more than 30 years.


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