Hoping to save close to $2 million next year, the city is considering moving its employees onto the state's prescription drug plan.
Chief Operating Officer David Panagore said officials are still in discussion with a few unions and with Hartford Public School employees, but he hopes to have most workers committed to the new plan by the end of the fiscal year.
Hartford could become the first municipality to join the state's plan, state Comptroller Kevin Lembo said.
"This imminent agreement, once finalized, could be the first in Connecticut, positioning Hartford, and hopefully others, to save municipal and state taxpayers millions of dollars," he said.
Although there would be minimal savings this year, Panagore said, the city would save $1.8 million during the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.
When the city put its prescription drug business out to bid, CVS Caremark returned a lower bid than the Hartford's current provider, Anthem, he said. CVS Caremark is the state's pharmacy benefits manager.
Two unions — AFSCME Council 4, which represents more than 800 city workers, and CSEA/SEIU Local 2001, which represents about 50 city employees — have already announced that they would participate in the new plan.
"The benefits we have negotiated are fair," said Matt O'Connor, a spokesman for CSEA/SEIU Local 2001. "This is a more stable, more cost-effective plan for employees. The benefit to our members is going to be controlling costs and keeping increases to a bare minimum."
O'Connor said retirees would be included in the new plan.
"We have long advocated for health care and prescription drug pooling," said Larry Dorman, a spokesman for AFSCME Council 4. "It generates significant savings for the mayor and it makes sure public service workers have adequate prescription drug protection. We just see it as a win-win."
A bill allowing non-state public employees — including municipal workers and workers for other state political subdivisions, such as school boards, quasi-public agencies and public libraries — to purchase prescription drugs through the state's plan was approved by the legislature last year and signed into law by former Gov. M. Jodi Rell in June.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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