CH joins regional healthcare program

The City of Cleveland Heights has entered into an agreement to join the Cuyahoga County Healthcare Regionalization Program. The program provides eligible political subdivisions with the opportunity to obtain favorable group rates for health care benefits for their employees.

"The ability to stabilize health care costs while at the same time maintaining existing benefits for our employees presented a great opportunity for us," said City Manager Tanisha R. Briley. "Staff worked closely with county officials over the last few months to evaluate the offer to be absolutely certain that this was the right way to go."

There are currently 10 other local municipalities participating in the program. Cleveland Heights, with 420 full-time employees, will be the largest city to join the program. The contract begins Sept. 1 and ends Dec. 31, 2016.

Cleveland Heights has sought other efficiencies through partnerships, as evidenced by the joint fire dispatch service with the cities of Shaker Heights and University Heights, a shared salt-storage facility, shared solid-waste transfer services, county contracted health and sanitary-sewer services, and income tax collection through the Regional Income Tax Authority (RITA). The Healthcare Regionalization Program is another cooperative arrangement to add to the list.

"We will continue to find ways to reduce expenses while maintaining service levels for our residents," said Mayor Dennis Wilcox. "Partnerships help, but we are still a long way from making up the nearly $2.5 million dollars we've lost to the state's drastic cuts in funding to cities."

Cleveland Heights spent $5.1 million in 2013, and $5.4 million is budgeted in 2014 for healthcare for employees. Savings are estimated to be between $400,000 and $450,000 for the first 16 months in the regional program. New rates will be established for the last year of the agreement.

Noreen Fox

Noreen Fox is the public relations coordinator for the City of Cleveland Heights.

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Volume 7, Issue 9, Posted 1:31 PM, 08.28.2014