Seattle, WA Regarding Canadian Prescription Drugs for City Employees

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Seattle, WA, US

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Type: Resolution

Status: Adopted on 4/26/04

Vote: Unanimous

Source File: Click here


Resolution Number: 30673
A RESOLUTION regarding Canadian prescription drugs, proclaiming the Seattle City Council's support for studying the efficacy of developing a voluntary health care benefit program covering City employee purchases of certain prescription drugs imported from a Canadian-licensed pharmacy.

WHEREAS, the City of Seattle's costs for its share of employee health care benefits, including prescription drugs, have been increasing annually and these costs have had a negative impact on the City's budget; and

WHEREAS, as a result of increasing health care costs, City of Seattle employees have been called on to assume a greater share of their health care costs; and

WHEREAS, prescription drug costs in the City's self-insured medical plans exceeded $9,000,000 in 2003 and employees paid approximately $3,000,000 of these costs; and

WHEREAS, some employees have experienced great hardship in paying for necessary prescription drugs and in some cases, have gone without prescribed medications; and

WHEREAS, many prescription drugs are available from Canadian-licensed pharmacies at substantially lower costs than in the United States; and

WHEREAS, the Seattle City Council recognizes that importing prescription drugs from Canada is not the only answer to addressing rising health care costs and that many employees and the City will continue to struggle with spiraling health care costs until a national sustainable solution is devised; and

WHEREAS, the states of New Hampshire, Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio, West Virginia, and Minnesota and the cities of Burlington, Vermont, Springfield and Boston, Massachusetts and Montgomery, Alabama have all endorsed importing prescription drugs from Canada as a safe and cost- effective alternative for government employees or residents seeking to lower the cost of prescription drugs; and

WHEREAS, the City's Labor Management Health Care Committee has been given authority to determine health care benefits within established parameters with the City's unions; and

WHEREAS, the City Council hopes that Seattle can move forward on a Canadian prescription drug program for its employees this year, but the Council realizes that further research is needed in order to determine whether creating such a program is in the best interest of the City and its employees; and

WHEREAS, because the cost savings from a Canadian prescription drug health care benefit to Seattle's Health Care Fund and its employees are uncertain at this time and such a benefit will not be used by all employees, the Seattle City Council believes that the City should investigate a variety of strategies that have the potential to provide relief from escalating healthcare costs; NOW, THEREFORE,


Section 1. The Seattle City Council encourages the City's Labor- Management Health Care Committee to investigate options for developing a voluntary health care benefit in which City of Seattle employees can purchase and be reimbursed for certain prescription drugs imported from Canada.

Section 2. While the Executive, in cooperation with labor representatives on the City's Labor Management Health Care Committee, will be responsible for researching various options for adopting a Canadian prescription drug benefit program, the Seattle City Council expects that the Executive will take the following actions in conducting its research and analysis:

A. Conduct due diligence, in coordination with the City's Law Department as appropriate, to research legal, tax, and safety issues that may impact program design and implementation.
B. Adopt program guidelines and implementation strategies that minimize any potential City liability;
C. Consult with other jurisdictions within the United States that currently have Canadian drug benefit programs in place to learn how these programs are being implemented by others across the country;
D. Consider program incentives that maximize city employee participation to enable both employees and the City to realize cost savings; and
E. Conduct any other research necessary to ensure that a Canadian prescription drug benefit program will be successful.

Section 3. The City Council will support a Canadian prescription drug benefit program that contains the following elements:

A. Identifies and discloses any safety and health issues
B. Is cost effective and practical to administer
C. Safeguards employee privacy
D. Is relatively easy for employees to use
E. Results in a net savings to the City and its employees
F. Minimizes the City's liability

Section 4. The Executive will update the Seattle City Council on the development of program options and will provide ongoing information as it becomes available regarding the implementation of any program option that is agreed to by the City's Labor Management Health Care Committee. The Executive is requested to provide monthly reports to the Council through the Labor Management Leadership Committee regarding progress in the development and review of program options. The first monthly report should be provided on May 14, 2004.

Section 5. The City Council, the Mayor, labor representatives representing City employees and City of Seattle employees should continue to act cooperatively to identify additional strategies that would further reduce health care costs for both the City and its employees.