Public Service Workers Applaud Signature of “Mini Pooling” Bill, Call on Next Administration to Enact Full-Scale Healthcare Pooling to Increase Access and Save Costsby Matt O'Connor on June 8th
Leaders of the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC) praised the passage of “An Act Concerning The Purchasing Of Prescription Drugs By Nonstate Public Employers,” which allows municipalities and school districts to participate in the State prescription drug plan. With the Governor’s signature of the bill yesterday, bulk purchases of the plan will mean significant reductions in the overall cost of life-saving medications.
“SEBAC has been advocating for a pooling mechanism for years,” said Sal Luciano, Executive Director of AFSCME Council 4. “Governor Rell had fought us by vetoing the bill each time it was passed by the General Assembly. We are very happy to see that she has finally acknowledged the benefits of increased access to quality care and increased savings to employees’ wallets as well as to state and municipal budgets.”
Twice before under the leadership of House Speaker Chris Donovan, the General Assembly had passed and Governor M. Jodi Rell had vetoed bills that would allow municipalities, non-profits, and small businesses to buy into Connecticut’s State employees’ and retirees’ health plan. This year the legislation focused on municipal and school employees gaining access to the pool for prescription drugs. The bill passed both chambers of the legislature with overwhelming approval in part because members of the General Assembly recognized and fought for the potential savings to the state budget and the increased access to quality affordable healthcare that the bill provides for those workers in the state’s cities and towns.
“I’m thrilled that workers like me will be able to save money by joining the pool,” said Karen Pratt-Szilagyi, an employee in Newtown’s Finance Department and the President of the CSEA/SEIU Local 2001 chapter representing the town’s municipal public service workers. “This gives me another choice for buying my families’ prescriptions. The power of bulk purchasing means that we can drive down the high price of expensive medications. Now we need to convince our next governor to support pooling for all of our health insurance costs.”
Skyrocketing health costs and a deepening budget deficit continue to dominate Connecticut’s political debate this election season. SEBAC leadership will join supporters in the legislature to advocate for additional mechanisms to provide more choices and improved benefits for its members while reducing costs for the state’s bottom line in the months and years ahead.
Council 4 and CSEA are two of the 13 unions in the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC), which serves to unite approximately 45,000 Connecticut State workers to address issues of common concern. To learn more about the coalition’s campaign for a fair budget and a livable state with great public services visit www.InThisTogetherCT.org.
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