Jul. 21—MASSENA — Town of Massena retirees say they would like to see the process move faster in switching to a new health insurance plan.
Several retirees were on hand Wednesday to ask the Massena Town Board to speed up the process and approve the transition to the new plan.
Deputy Town Supervisor Patrick M. Facteau said they had followed up with Zachary Zuckerman, a group benefits consultant at USI Insurance Services in Syracuse, and he had made contact with most of the retirees to discuss the new plan.
“As far as I know, we’ve had no negatives in regards to this,” Facteau said.
Town Supervisor Susan J. Bellor said she has also reached out to Zuckerman to ensure he gets in touch with those retirees who have not yet been in contact.
“There’s eight people who have to be contacted,” he said.
But, some retirees questioned whether everybody needed to be contacted since the majority were in favor of the change. Georgette Davis said the work had already been done to change the program and everything had looked good, but it still wasn’t finalized.
“I don’t know why we have to keep waiting until you contact each single individually. I think the board should be able to move ahead,” she said.
Bellor said the changes could not be made until mid-October.
“So, I want to make sure that everybody has a good conversation with him because there are a few people who could possibly lose their prescription plan if they change over,” she said.
“If we put this off one more month, I think we need to make a decision at the next board meeting” regardless if everyone had been contacted, Facteau said.
But, Bellor said he didn’t think that would be fair to those who had not yet been contacted.
Time was critical, Davis said.
“There are some people who are going to be going south,” she said.
Councilor Francis J. Carvel suggested they’re moving forward as fast as possible.
“I think we have to move on with this in a reasonable amount of time. The next board meeting would be reasonable,” he said. “I don’t see where the waiting is going to do us any good. We’ve waited long enough. It’s always nice to not wait until the 11th hour. If you get it a couple months early, it allows everybody a lot more time for the plan to contact these people.”
“If you could push Zach to contact everyone, that would be great,” Bellor said.
Facteau said he would contact Zuckerman and ask him to give a final report at the board’s August meeting. Then, he said, board members could vote on the plan.
However, Bellor still had concerns about contacting every retiree.
“We just want to have a conversation with each person. I think that’s fair to each individual,” she said.
“Is it possible to get every single person?” Carvel asked. “It’s like everything else. It’s the majority. You already have 90%, 95%.”
Facteau agreed, saying that if they couldn’t reach everybody, “I think we get the majority the best we can.”
Nancy Fregoe shared Davis’ concern that the process should be moving faster.
“To reiterate what Georgette was saying, originally we got a letter saying this is your new insurance, come and listen to the program,” she said.
“It was proposed. I wanted your input,” Bellor said.
“It didn’t sound like it,” Fregoe said. “It said come to the meeting because we’re going to explain your new insurance. Had we all not shown up en masse, it was going to get voted on. That’s why we actually came to the meetings. It sounds like it would have gotten approved if we hadn’t been here, and now you want to contact every single person.”
Bellor reiterated that some individuals could lose their current prescription coverage if they changed plans.
“But, everybody’s going to get prescription coverage with this new plan,” Fregoe said.
If approved, the key to saving the town and retirees money on their health insurance plans was to enroll in Medicare Part C, the Medicare Advantage Program rather than Medicare A, B and D offered by the federal government. Part A covers hospitalization, Part B covers major medical, and Part D covers prescription drugs.
Broome County has put together an association called the Broome County Healthcare Alliance, which has 6,000 retirees covered by the program, and the town of Massena has been accepted into that program. Under the plan, major medical has been paid in full with no co-payments from members. Prescription drugs have a $0 co-payment for generics, $5 for preferred brand name drugs, and $20 for non-preferred brand name drugs.