By GREGORY N. HEIRES
Beginning in July, the DC 37 health centers in Manhattan and Brooklyn will no longer provide podiatry services. In addition, the vision services in the Manhattan center will no longer be provided.
Members and retirees must now get their optical care through the Health & Security Plan’s optical provider network or their own physician.
For podiatry care, members and retirees should visit physicians who are on their insurance company’s network of podiatrists.
The closings of the podiatry and vision offices at the health centers are part of H & S’s long-term plan to control costs in the face of the skyrocketing pharmaceutical prices. To secure the financial health of the drug and other benefits, the plan raised co-pays at the beginning of the year, and the union later negotiated with the city to provide an additional $200 in permanent funding for each member for H&S benefits.
The vision benefit remains the same, except that members and retirees must now use the plan’s network of optical providers. The vision benefit provides for a free exam and free glasses and lenses every two years.
You can call or visit the Health & Security Plan’s Inquiry Unit to obtain a list of vision care providers at 212-815-1234. The list, which the plan updates monthly, is also posted on the union’s website .
The health centers will continue to provide dental services. In addition, audiology services will continue at the Manhattan center. Members and retirees are entitled to an annual dental benefit of $1,700.
The audiology benefit covers a hearing evaluation and, if necessary, two hearing aids. The plan decided to continue heavily subsiding hearing aids, recognizing that to stop providing the benefit would impose a great financial burden on members and retirees.
“The decision to no longer cover these benefits at our health centers was one of the toughest decisions made by the trustees and carried out by the plan,” the plan Administrator Willie Chang said. “With the relentless increase in the price of drugs, we are doing whatever we can to preserve our benefits — especially the prescription drug benefit.”
The DC 37 Blog is an online publication of DC 37, AFSCME, a union that represents 125,000 municipal workers in New York City.