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Nutter Administration Pushing City Workers Toward No-Tobacco Pharmacies

By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Thousands of non-union Philadelphia municipal workers are being coaxed into using pharmacies that don't sell tobacco products.

And higher health care premiums are coming for those workers who do smoke.

The Nutter administration has created a new pharmacy network for about 5,400 non-unionized city workers called "The Preferred Health Network."

The network includes pharmacies at CVS, Target, and Wegmans, as well as about 135 independent pharmacies that no longer sell cigarettes.

Effective January 1st, workers who go outside the network will pay $15 more per prescription.

"The one and only driving force is that the pharmacy has to forgo the sale of tobacco," says James Startare (below), the city's deputy director of human resources.  "It's going to yield financial savings to help the city meet its fringe benefit budget.  And it has the potential to have long-term, citywide impacts that align with the mayor's goal of a tobacco-free Philadelphia."

startare_james _dunn
(James Startare, deputy director of human resources for the City of Philadelphia, speaks with reporters. Photo by Mike Dunn)


Separate from the prescription network comes a second change: any non-unionized city worker or spouse in the plan who still smokes will pay an extra $500 per year above their current contribution, until he or she takes a smoking cessation course.

Startare estimates about 15 to 20 percent of those 5,400 workers currently smoke.

Both changes also affect about 900 retirees.



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