Points worth noting: Fort Worth schools' anti-bullying program; Cook Children's and Aetna back together

Posted Friday, Mar. 29, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Editor's note: This editorial has been updated to correct the name of Kathryn Everest, the Fort Worth schools' guidance and counseling director.

Creative financing

Who'd have thought the initials INOK would be worth money?

Fort Worth school officials are hoping it is.

School board members approved a licensing agreement this week with Positive Promotions of Hauppauge, N.Y., that would bring in royalty payments if other school districts buy trinkets emblazoned with Fort Worth's anti-bullying slogan "It's Not Okay" -- INOK for short.

The district started the initiative in 2010 to promote school safety and educate students about making good decisions.

The It's Not OK program deals with bullying but also other issues such as substance abuse, teen dating violence, lying, sexting and suicide. The INOK website includes examples of elementary school students' efforts to promote kindness, discourage cheating and address cyberbullying. (www.fwisd.org/safe/Pages/default.aspx)

Among the site's many links are charts for teachers listing unacceptable behavior and potential consequences.

Kathryn Everest, the Fort Worth schools' guidance and counseling director, said other districts have called asking to use the program, according to a Star-Telegram news report.

Public schools that don't take prompt action against bullying that could constitute discrimination might lose federal funding in extreme cases, the Education Department has said.

The staff proposal to Fort Worth trustees said, "By selling rights to some of our copyrighted work, we can both share their positive influence and realize income that will support our students, our employees and our work."

Positive Promotions sells a slew of products that can be imprinted with slogans and company and school names. Items include silicone awareness bracelets, drawstring backpacks, water bottles, coffee travel mugs, buttons, pencils and T-shirts. The "bully prevention" page on the company website features 298 products, with slogans such as "Be a buddy not a bully" and "It's cool to be kind."

Under the licensing agreement, the Fort Worth district would receive a 20 percent royalty on sales up to $250,000.

The partnership looks like a creative way to capitalize on a topical program to which the district has already devoted time and effort. It's the kind of initiative that, in tight budgetary times, public schools will have to develop more often.

Fee dispute resolved

At a time when Americans are being encouraged to find a medical "home" to maintain a continuum of care and thus bring down healthcare costs, it seemed unnecessarily disruptive for Cook Children's Health Care System and the Aetna insurance company to be involved in a contract dispute that lasted for months.

Aetna Better Health, a Medicaid managed-care network, had dropped Cook Children's as of November because of a disagreement over fee reimbursements. That meant some families that took their children to physicians at Cook had to find other pediatricians or switch insurance carriers.

During the dispute, Cook Children's continued to see Aetna patients in the emergency room or with referrals. But an unknown number of patients had to go to Children's Medical of Dallas or its Southlake clinic for pediatric services.

Aetna Better Health covers 42,500 children eligible for Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program in the Tarrant service area, which includes Denton, Hood, Johnson, Parker and Wise counties.

Families eligible for Medicaid or CHIP also can enroll their children in Amerigroup (which has 128,000 members in the region) or the Cook Children's Health Plan (108,000 members).

The two sides have reached an agreement that covers treatment since March 1 and has no expiration date, Star-Telegram business writer Jim Fuquay reported Thursday. It was not clear what the reimbursement terms were.

But the report quoted Tarrant County Medical Society President Sealy Massengill as saying, "The doctors see this as a really good thing."

Affected families that consider Tarrant County's specialty pediatric hospital their healthcare provider of choice almost certainly agree.

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