An Ignored Health Care Proposal
Many of you have heard that the Firefighters Union made a health care proposal in an effort to save the City of Johnstown money. We will do our best here to try and explain a very confusing subject.
Prior to our contract negotiations we met with representatives from Millennium Administrators. This is a healthcare brokerage similar to the Gleason Agency in Johnstown. We asked them to see if it was possible to build a healthcare plan similar to what we currently had at a reduced cost. They came up with a novel approach to health care. This plan would be a high deductible plan with a healthcare savings account which would cover the cost of deductibles. There are many other municipalities using this type of plan with great savings and success. We were excited to present this plan because we understand what a burden healthcare is on the City budget.
When this new plan was compared to our existing healthcare plan the potential savings would be $250,000- $400,000 annually. This savings would vary in that range depending on the employee usage. (This was just for the fire department alone). The City only had interest in moving the fire department into the Highmark plan currently enjoyed by the rest of City employees. We then showed them the savings over that plan which would be $77,000- $180,000. Still, the City was not interested. They used an argument based on the recovery plan which stated that all City employees shall be placed in the same healthcare plan to reduce cost. Obviously, we were confused by this?? Why not place all City employees into the plan we are proposing? This would clearly show an enormous savings City-wide! The potential savings of $500,000-$1,000,000! Still, the City was not interested. Confused yet?
We then met with several members of City Council to try and explain the obvious savings to them. They all were amazed by the potential savings but questioned why the City never told them about this proposal. They assured us they would get to the bottom of this and try to get a meeting together to discuss this matter further. Unfortunately, we never heard from anyone on the subject and a meeting was never scheduled.
Since then, an arbitrated contract award placed us into the Highmark plan with the rest of the City. This plan included a significant increase in deductibles, co-pays, and prescription cost while providing less of a benefit to the member. With all the work we had done to prepare our rejected, healthcare plan you can understand our frustration! Our proposed plan was not a union tactic or charade but a true savings which was fully supported by documentation. It was presented by group of concerned City employees attempting to improve the City’s financial situation while also improving a benefit to our membership.
If you are as confused as we are after reading this we urge you to contact your City leadership and ask why??
Thank you for your time. As promised, this was the whole truth.
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