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Paterson school district changes teachers’ prescription benefit program | Paterson Times

Paterson school district changes teachers’ prescription benefit program

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School officials changed the district’s prescription benefit program for the 2020-21 school year on Monday night which will produce approximately $2 million in savings.

School board members awarded a $17.77 million prescription drug program contract to CVS Caremark. Board members were presented two proposals – CVS Caremark and BeneCard Services — at the special meeting.

Both proposals were similarly priced. BeneCard Services was slightly higher at $17.9 million but had a six-percent price cap for the second year. However, an incompatibility with existing labor contracts precluded BeneCard from receiving the business.

“The issue is the equal to or better part for BeneCard. That’s the issue,” said school board president Kenneth Simmons referring to a clause in the teachers’ contract.

“Under BeneCard they do not guarantee coverage for new drugs. What we have now does carry coverage for new drugs,” said Robert Murray, chief attorney for the district. He said going with the BeneCard proposal would violate the teachers’ union contract’s so-called equal to or better clause for health benefits.

Some school board members asked for the price to remain with the current provider, Express Scripts. Consultants, who spoke to board members over a teleconference, said extending the Express Scripts contract for a third year would cost $19.84 million.

Projected cost for CVS in the second year is $18.9 million, according to the district’s consultants from CBIZ.

The savings will aide in reducing the district’s budget shortfall. School officials announced a massive $63 million budget shortfall for the 2020-21 academic year budget earlier in the year. Officials said the shortfall has been reduced to $20 million. School board members had expected to vote on the preliminary budget on Monday night. However, board members had to postpone the vote. School officials said the district’s business administrator Richard Matthews, who resides in Teaneck, has been under lockdown as the Bergen County town, hard hit by the new coronavirus, imposed sweeping restrictions on businesses and residents.

Email: jay@patersontimes.com

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