CONTACT: Katie Fryman
BOSTON November 19, 2008 Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (BCBSMA) today announced the recipients of the 2008 Municipal Health Care Innovation Best in Class Awards. The awards recognize municipalities that have successfully integrated programs to improve the well-being of their employees and help control and reduce municipal health care costs. Recipients will receive a $5,000 wellness grant to implement programs designed to improve the overall health and wellness of the municipalities' employees.
"Municipalities are facing significant financial challenges. There is no quick-fix solution to contain rising health care costs," said John Coughlin, Vice President of Select Markets for BCBSMA. "Through their exceptional efforts, these groups have adopted a long-term strategy that addresses the drivers of health care costs - we hope that by highlighting the successes of these communities, other communities and businesses will be inspired to implement similar programs."
The complete list of winners of The Municipal Health Care Innovation Best in Class Awards includes:
Hall of Fame - City of Haverhill
All-Around Programming - Wachusett Regional School District
All-Around Programming - Town of Wakefield (Member of Massachusetts Interlocal Insurance Association)
Creative Value - Town of West Springfield
Creative Value - City of Lowell
Work/Wellness - Town of Mansfield
Coughlin said that the changes these municipalities made demonstrate their understanding that choosing short-term solutions that provide immediate savings will not be beneficial to the community in the future. BCBSMA attributes the single digit increases that some cities and towns have seen over the past three years to changes in plan design, as well as disease management and wellness programs.
"Healthy employees are productive employees - so it makes good business sense to offer programs that improve workforce health," said Wendy Everett, president of the New England Healthcare Institute. "Our research reflects a rising tide of chronic disease in and beyond Greater Boston that can be stemmed by municipalities taking the lead with wellness initiatives."
Hall of Fame winner, the City of Haverhill, was recognized for its successful implementation of several initiatives to control the rising cost of health care while maintaining strong benefits. The city put into operation a managed care model that has proven to be more efficient and has reduced expected costs for the city and its employees. Haverhill has also adopted an integrated program to include both Medicare and city health benefits, maximizing coverage for retirees.
"The City of Haverhill is deeply honored to receive the Municipal Health Care Innovation Award," said Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini. "This award is a tribute to the hard work done by our employees and their unions and I accept this award on their behalf. Our employees, their unions our Insurance Advisory Board and Wellness Committee have worked with us to reform our health care system, and institute new and innovative programs like our wellness program, our consolidation of programs, and our other programs to keep costs down. Working together, we have saved over $1.5 million a year in taxpayer dollars. Achieving these reforms was a very long and difficult process. It is gratifying to have Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts recognize our efforts."
"Cost reduction efforts work best with collaboration between management and labor," said Steve Shay, Director of Labor Affairs for BCBSMA. "These municipalities have built a strong coalition between labor and management and between different segments within their community. This successful model gets all parties involved in improving member's health which reduces costs for the municipalities and their taxpayers."
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts ( http://www.bluecrossma.com ) was founded more than 70 years ago by a group of community-minded business leaders. Today, headquartered in Boston, BCBSMA provides coverage to more than 3 million members, 2.5 million in Massachusetts. BCBSMA believes in rewarding doctors and hospitals for delivering safe and effective care, and in empowering patients to take more responsibility, become educated health care consumers and become stronger partners with their doctors. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.