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Thirteen communities may form health care consortium

June 21, 2010

On Tuesday, June 22, 13 Town Supervisors and Village Mayors gathered together with labor leaders at the Pittsford Community Library to announce a

collaborative partnership to explore the potential of creating a healthcare consortium. The decision to collaborate on this issue was driven by the burden that health care benefits is having on local municipal budgets. Since 2008, the premiums for these thirteen (13) communities have increased by over $6 million representing a 32.9% increase. Buying collaboratively will allow the communities to gain leverage, credibility and more information.

Under New York State law, to participate in a health care consortium, a community needs to have at least 50 benefit eligible employees. The collaborative partnership includes the Towns of Brighton, Chili, Gates, Greece, Henrietta, Irondequoit, Penfield, Perinton, Pittsford and Webster as well as the Villages of East Rochester and Fairport. The consortium also includes the Town of Victor in Ontario County. Together, these towns have almost 1900 insured bodies with collective insurance premiums of over $24 million.

The idea of forming a healthcare consortium has been discussed for a long time. The idea originally came from a sub-committee of the Monroe County Council of Governments chaired by Pittsford Supervisor Bill Carpenter. The Monroe County COG is a voluntary association of municipal governments in Monroe County organized to provide a forum for discussion and cooperative action on issues of common concern that go beyond jurisdictional boundaries.

Bill Carpenter stated "For years, the local insurance marketplace has dictated its terms to local employers and collective bargaining groups. By utilizing the concept of cooperative purchasing, we would allow each municipality to take back control of their healthcare premium costs and receive data as to the actual utilization of services - which ultimately drives the cost of the plan."

Ron Nesbitt, Chairman of the Council of Governments and Webster Town Supervisor added "This is a great story about communities joining forces and working together to try and lower costs for municipalities, and ultimately, taxpayers." He continued, "By joining together to purchase medical insurance for employees, we could leverage the much larger size of our 13 communities."

The collaborative partnership is still in an exploration phase. Information is being collected about the individual communities. Following that, an overall health care plan needs to be developed that will meet the needs of the various Town and Village Boards, their staff and the collective bargaining units.