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Unions reach health savings deal with city

The Municipal Labor Committee, the umbrella group of nearly 100 municipal labor unions including the UFT, has reached an agreement with the city on a plan to save $1.1 billion in employee health care costs while maintaining premium-free health insurance for city employees.

The deal, which took effect on July 1, sets the stage for the next round of collective bargaining between the city and its municipal unions, including the UFT. While the Municipal Labor Committee negotiates for all the unions on citywide issues, including health care, each of the individual unions conducts its own negotiations on wages and working conditions.

“Working with the city and the other municipal unions, we managed to come up with a health care deal that will provide excellent services while reducing overall costs,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew. “All of the health savings will be ploughed back into the next round of municipal contracts to benefit our members.”

The savings over the next three years will come, in part, from increased use of services outside of hospitals, such as in health centers and doctors’ offices, for procedures including arthroscopy, colonoscopy, radiology, ambulatory surgery and cataract removal.

As part of the agreement, city employees hired after July 1, 2019, will automatically be enrolled in the Health Insurance Plan (HIP) and, after one year, can select another plan if they choose.

Another source of savings will be the assumption of a lower rate of growth in city spending on health care.

New services for city employees will include a fertility support program and wellness initiatives for better management of chronic conditions such as asthma and diabetes.

More details about the changes will be shared with UFT members as soon as they are finalized.

In April 2014, as part of the previous bargaining round, the city and the Municipal Labor Committee reached a deal on similar measures designed to reduce health care costs. This past March, the city said the plan was on track to reach its goal of $3.4 billion in health savings in four years.

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