On Monday, November 15th, 10 municipalities gathered together with labor leaders and representatives from MVP at the Pittsford Community Library to announce their decision to form the Finger Lakes Municipal Health Insurance Trust. The decision to collaborate on this issue was driven by the burden that health care benefits is having on local municipal budgets.
Buying collaboratively through the trust agreement will allow the communities to gain leverage, credibility and, most importantly, mitigate the negative financial impact health insurance costs are having on their budgets. The collaborative partnership includes the Towns of Chili, Henrietta, Penfield, Perinton, Pittsford and Webster as well as the Villages of East Rochester and Fairport. The trust also includes the Town of Victor in Ontario County and the Rochester Housing Authority. Together, these entities have almost 1261 insured bodies. Over the next three years, the participating members in the trust will have collective premiums of approximately $37 million. If the communities stood alone and did not form the trust, they would have collective premiums of approximately $42.1 million. Thus, the trust will result in an approximate $5.1 million reduction for the communities in the next three years.
Bill Carpenter, Pittsford Town Supervisor, stated ”This is a great story about communities coming together to act in the best interest of taxpayers. By utilizing the concept of cooperative purchasing, we have allowed each municipality to take back control of their healthcare premium costs. More importantly, however, is that together we have saved millions of taxpayer dollars and provided our employees with quality, dependable health coverage.”
Tony LaFountain, Supervisor of the Town of Penfield, stated “As a new supervisor I was very concerned about increased costs to our taxpayers on all fronts. Health care costs continue to rise at a staggering double digit rate year on year which can not be sustained. Penfield was delighted to partner with other Towns in the County to form a consortium, hence expanding our individual membership to a number that provided the same coverage at lower pricing, which results in savings to our customers, the taxpayers.”
The formation of the trust has been a complicated process, primarily due to New York State’s insurance laws. Assemblyman Joseph Morelle, Chair of the NYS Assembly Committee on Insurance, has helped the participating communities navigate these laws and, as a result, form the trust.
"As chairman of the Assembly's insurance committee, I have consistently sought to combat excessive premium increases that make it harder to provide health care coverage," said Assemblyman Joseph D. Morelle, D-Irondequoit. "The Health Insurance Trust is a model of collaboration that will save property tax payers millions of dollars while maintaining medical coverage for town employees. I am pleased to have been a partner in making today's announcement possible, and I commend the Council of Governments for its leadership on this issue."”
The idea of forming a healthcare trust (consortium) has been discussed for a long time. The idea originally came from a sub-committee of the Monroe County Council of Governments group 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.