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Public Worker Retirements Climbing With NJ Pension Talks

By Samantha Marcus/NJ Advance Media for 04, 2015

TRENTON - Nearly 10 percent more government workers retired in the first seven months of the year than in the same period last year, a rise some labor leaders say is a response to Gov. Chris Christie's overtures toward cutting benefits.

More than 13,000 public employees retired through July, compared with fewer than 12,000 in 2014, and the increase was concentrated among state workers and public safety employees, state data shows.

"Every time this governor opens his mouth and comes out with a new report or threatens a new report... he scares our guys right to the retirement line," said Ed Donnelly, president of the New Jersey State Firefighters' Mutual Benevolent Association.

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Lost in the Outcry Over OMNIA: Tiered Insurance Plans Should Mean Savings

Andrew Kitchenman/NJ Spotlight/October 2, 2015

The tiered coverage just introduced by the state's biggest insurer has raised an outcry of concerns and questions -- from hospitals, healthcare providers, and even potential patients. Ironically, the OMNIA Health Alliance from Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey is being posited as an answer to the most important question of all: How much can insurance costs be cut in New Jersey?

The simple answer: a lot.

More precisely, a tiered plan will save roughly 23 percent on monthly premiums for public workers and their families who are members of the State Health Benefits Program. That is in addition to as much as $2,980 in annual out-of-pocket cost savings. The secret to the savings offered by the tiered plans is that people pay less if they receive healthcare from a select group of doctors and hospitals.

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PSMA Retirees' Network Update

The State has announced changes to the Retiree Prescription Co-Pays beginning January 1, 2016. For the latest co-pay schedule please CLICK HERE..

The Retiree Network has established a Coordinating Committee to increase membership recruitment and plan activities. At the meeting we appointed the following members to the Coordinating Committee:

Barry Chalofsky
Phil Frigero
Ed Frankel
Janice DiGiuseppe
Jeff Reading

Additional members are welcome to join us! If you are interested in serving on the Coordinating Committee please send an email to Barry Chalofsky at

PSMA Retirees' Network membership continues to grow and is now over 40 members! We added 4 new members in September. We need each member to get at least one new member to join. Don't think that because you are retired you are not affected by what's going on in Trenton. Our pensions and health benefits are on the line, and we need support from PSMA and IBEW Local 30 to fight for our rights. The Retiree Network is the only organization that can bring you that support - so help us grow our membership!

As many of you are aware a number of long-time PSMA members have retired from the State. While this has been a loss to PSMA we all understand that this is part of life - especially for State workers. We strongly encourage these recent retirees to join the PSMA Retirees' Network. If you know of a retired manager (or non-manager), please have him or her go to for more information.

Contribute to PSMA PAC

In order for an organization to be effective it has to have a well-funded Political Action Committee (PAC). PSMA is not allowed to use dues to given donations to candidates and political parties. All monies used for that purpose come from a separate PSMA PAC which gets its funding directly from contributions by members. This past year the PSMA PAC made some very critical donations to legislators who ended up supporting us in our quest for union legislation.

This effort requires a small contribution from everyone. Please consider donating $2.00 or more per paycheck to the PSMA PAC. You can get a special PAC dues deduction card by e-mailing, or directly from your payroll clerk. You can also send a donation to:

212 West State Street
Trenton, NJ 08608
Welcome to the Public Sector Managers' Association

The Public Sector Managers' Association, Inc. (PSMA) has been recognized by the State of New Jersey as the Constitutional Representative of all non- aligned/non-union managers in New Jersey government as of November 13, 1993 pursuant to Article 1, Paragraph 19 of the New Jersey State Constitution. PSMA's responsibility under that provision is to serve as a vehicle for two-way communication between the State as an employer and its managerial employees. The representation, however, is limited to managers who are PSMA dues-paying members of the State government. PSMA is a partner with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 30 which represents certain managers in State government. PSMA works closely with IBEW Local 30 on issues related to managers who are represented by IBEW Local 30 and those that are not eligible for representation.

PSMA's mission is to serve managers in New Jersey government by achieving and maintaining superior and ethical management service; promoting a high regard for our managers by those outside and within the government; and restoring equity to the human resource policies and practices of New Jersey government as they relate to managers.

PSMA Update

IBEW Local 30 is moving ahead with the proposal to create a Labor Council that includes PSMA, IBEW Local 30 and IBEW Local 33 (the Deputy Attorneys General). IBEW Local 30 had its first of two readings of the by-laws of the Labor Council. We are hopeful that the Council will be in place in early 2016. The Council will assume many of the significant costs of PSMA and will allow us to work more closely with all represented and unrepresented managers. The Council will bring many voices to one table and there is always strength in numbers. Both PSMA and the PSMA Retiree Network will be represented on the Council. PSMA will vote on the proposal at its November 10, 2015 meeting. IBEW Local 30 and IBEW Local 33 votes will be taken during the winter meetings.

As you know, PSMA has been the voice for managers for well over 20 years. We delivered managers a union! This was not without the support of our members. Are we done fighting - Absolutely NOT! We will continue to fight for our members, but we need your help. Many felt they could sit on the sidelines and let the others fight for them. But, thankfully, for IBEW Local 30, a good number of great individuals stood up and fought together. We need your help by stepping up to continue this fight - This includes joining our Board of Directors. This is where we exchange ideas and information and strategize for our next mission - to expand collective bargaining rights to more managers.

We truly appreciate your support and your affiliation with PSMA as we continue to be the voice for all State managers. Please let Lisa Ginther, PSMA Executive Director, know if you have any questions, or if you're interested in joining our Board.

We ask that you speak to other managers, especially managers that supervise other managers, to get them to join PSMA - please have them visit the PSMA Website!

Thank you for your support and loyalty to the only professional organization for NJ State Managers - formed by State Managers.

All the best,

Stanley V. Cach, President
Public Sector Managers' Association

State Health Benefit Plan Changes - Fall 2015 and January 2016

Premium Increases - on average rates will increase by 4.5% for state employees and 6.0% for local government workers though the actual premiums for family and employee/child coverage will increase more than single and employee/spouse/partner coverage.

Pilot Project - Direct Primary Care Medical Homes (voluntary) -- union members, early retirees, and family members in any non-HMO plan can join this new pilot program any time during the year. It features no copays for members and dependents and 24/7 access to a physician.

The patient load for doctors will be reduced from the typical level of 2500 patients per doctor to less than a 1000 per doctor allowing for much more regular interaction between patient and doctor, especially allowing doctors to provide more help to those with chronic conditions.

It is anticipated that these intensive primary care efforts will keep members healthier, improve the quality of healthcare, and produce significant savings by reducing the need for specialist referrals, ER visits, and hospital admissions.

The pilot will operate for three years with a goal of 60,000 members participating among south, central and northern pilots. The quality and cost of the pilot will be evaluated by an independent group with the option to expand the effort if it is successful.

Participation by members in the pilot is entirely voluntary and the member retains the ability to visit any specialist or facility while participating in the pilot. The pilot starts on April 1, 2016.

New Horizon & Aetna Tiered Network Options - this new option will be available starting on 1/1/16 to members who are seeking a lower premium plan. Members can choose this option during open enrollment-- no one will be compelled to join.

The Tiered (aka Narrow or Limited) Network plan will have two tiers of coverage - a smaller tier 1 network for full coverage and a tier 2 network that includes all current NJ Direct providers but with much higher copays, co-insurance (20% by member), deductibles ($1500), and maximum out of pockets ($4500) than in Tier 1.

Like an HMO, the tiered network plan will have no out of network coverage. However, any participant that goes to a Tier 1 hospital or facility is guaranteed no balanced billing from an out of network doctor working at the in-network hospital or facility.

This plan will cost 25% less than NJ Direct 15, and is a better alternative to a High Deductible plan; however participants must be careful to be sure that their physician and necessary services are in the tier one network. The Tier One network will include 12 hospital systems with over thirty locations; located only in New Jersey. This plan will not be for everyone. The Tiered Network option will feature sharply reduced (25%) member premiums -- without cost shifting to members, if you're careful and use Tier One providers.

Hepatitis C Drugs - effective October 1, 2015 the State is using a Step Therapy approach for the newest, very effective and very expensive Hepatitis C drugs. The drug for which Express Scripts negotiated significant cost reductions, Viekira Pak, will be the first choice for treatment. If it doesn't work, has side effects that are not tolerated, or there is a medical reason to use another drug, members can go on to another of the new medications.

Members in a course of treatment with one of the other drugs prior to implementation of the new step therapy program will continue with that course of treatment.

Since a course of the new Hepatitis C treatment costs around $80,000 to $90,000 and Express Scripts appears to be able to reduce these costs by nearly a third with step therapy, this was a smart move.

Limiting Compound Drugs - compound drug costs have increased over 1000% over the last three years. Very few of these compound drug treatments have been tested for effectiveness or safety. The use of these topical compound drugs will be significantly restricted. Compound drugs will still be available for those who cannot take an FDA approved drug by the normal means of delivery, are allergic to an ingredient, or whose medical conditions prohibits the use of the prescribed (non-compound) drug. The new rules will be implemented sometime in the Fall 2015. This change alone kept premiums about 2% lower than they would have been otherwise.

ER Copays - Emergency Room copays will go up $25 effective 1/1/16 for all plans; however, the increased copay is waived for all patients under the age of 19, for any patient referred to the ER by a physician, and for any patient admitted to the hospital within 24 hours.

Chiropractic and Acupuncture Payments -In-network reimbursement for these two services will be increased to attract more in-network providers. Out of network reimbursement for these providers will be limited to 75% of the in-network reimbursement effective 1/1/16.
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