Think Flu Season is Behind Us? Think Again

Posted by admin on 11th January 2010


Here it is January and you’ve been one of the lucky ones who haven’t gotten sick with seasonal flu or the nasty H1N1 flu. Perhaps you tried to get vaccinated in the fall when vaccine supplies were limited and being reserved for high-risk groups. Then the holidays came, everyone was busy, and you’re fine so why bother?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the NYS Department of Health, although flu activity (caused by either 2009 H1N1 or seasonal flu viruses) may rise and fall, it is expected to continue for several more months. January through March is typically peak flu season. Vaccination is the first and most important step in protecting against the flu.  Because supplies of the 2009 H1N1 vaccines have increased dramatically, CDC is now encouraging everyone who has been patiently waiting to receive the H1N1 vaccine to get vaccinated at this time. Vaccine supplies are plentiful and there is no charge for the shot if you receive it at a public health clinic. You can also receive it from your doctor but ask first if you will be charged a copay.

For more information:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention              

NYS Dept of Health                               

The NYS DOH website includes a page that identifies free H1N1 clinics in every county

Categories: Health Benefits

Contact Information for Benefit Plans

Posted by admin on 11th January 2010

Have a question about a benefit? Did Blue Shield reject a claim you believe they should have paid? Call the plan first. If the answer you receive isn’t satisfactory, call or e-mail Barbara Telasky (, or ext. 214 in Albany), who is PEF’s liaison to each plan. If the matter remains unresolved, or you prefer not to speak to Barbara directly because the matter is sensitive, contact Deborah Stayman ( or ext. 286 in Albany.


Telephone Number


Blue Shield of Northeastern New York Customer Service 888-840-6322

Find a Provider 800-810-2583

(formerly NMHC)

Davis Vision 800-999-5431
Health Care Spending Account & Dependent Care Account 518-785-0115/800-233-3394 Shannon McMeel          Corporate Benefit Planning


Categories: Health Benefits

ProAir Inhalers Now Available for $0 Copay

Posted by admin on 7th January 2010

Through the cooperative efforts of the USW/PEF Joint Committee on Health Benefits, a brand name drug called ProAir HFA, which is an inhaler for asthma and related conditions, has been moved from Tier 2 to Tier 1 on the informedRX formulary. As a Tier 1 drug, ProAir is now available for $0 copay at retail or the mail service pharmacy. This change took effect on November 1, 2009.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) mandated that albuterol inhalers containing the propellant chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) be discontinued from the market by December 31, 2008. They were replaced by albuterol inhalers containing a more environmentally friendly propellant known as hydrofluoroalkane (HFA). Several HFA inhalers are available as alternatives to albuterol CFC inhalers; however, they are available only as brand name medications.

In early 2009, when generic inhalers were no longer available, USW members contacted USW representatives on the Joint Committee on Health Benefits because paying the brand name copay was a financial burden. As a result, the Committee worked to find a way to make at least one brand name inhaler available on Tier 1 of the formulary so it would be affordable for everyone. If you or a covered dependent currently use an inhaler other than ProAir, you may wish to ask your doctor if it is appropriate to try ProAir.

If you have any questions, please contact Deborah Stayman.


Categories: Health Benefits

Labor Management

Posted by admin on 7th January 2010


Categories: Labor Management