Saturday, October 14, 2006

U. of Michigan dumped their PBM (Caremark), why can't STRS?

From John Curry, October 14, 2006
Subject: U. of Michigan dumped their PBM (Caremark), why can't STRS?
Note from John: Let's see, U. of M. Rx services serve 80,000 people, STRS serves over 100,000 retirees. U. of M. saved 2.5 million by their action, wonder how much STRS could save by doing the same? I have a hunch that over 100,000 people of retirement age require more Rx's than 80,000 active (and younger) employees of the U. of M.
We have been told that STRS is looking into the Rx business and seeing how they could save themselves (and us) money. Maybe they should look next door and ask the Wolverines?
Workforce Management (
Some Employers Look to Break the PBM Habit
Consultants say cutting out the pharmaceutical middlemen is possible for any firm hoping to contain fast-growing drug costs
By Jeremy Smerd
Earlier this year, the University of Michigan terminated its relationship with Caremark Rx after the university decided it could save more money by dumping the pharmacy benefit manager and managing its own prescription drug spending.

The university expects to save $2.5 million by handling the estimated $60 million it will spend this year on prescription drugs. Most of the savings come from eliminating fees from the university’s former pharmacy benefit manager and using the claims data of the 80,000 people it provides insurance for—data the PBMs do not share with their clients—to help school officials negotiate better drug prices.

By managing its pharmacy benefit plan, the university is considered the first employer in the country to wean itself off pharmacy benefit managers, the middlemen of the prescription drug world. Critics have argued for several years that PBMs do not deliver the kind of savings large employers could reap if they aggressively managed their own pharmaceutical spending.

Though it may seem like a function beyond the expertise of most benefits administrators, some consultants contend that cutting out the middleman is possible for anyone looking to contribute to a company’s bottom line by reducing one of the fastest-growing costs in health care spending: prescription drugs.

"Why rely on a middleman?" says Chiara Bell, president of Clarus Inc., a health benefits consultancy in West Palm Beach, Florida. Clarus is among the handful of consultancies working with companies to help cut out pharmacy benefit managers. "At the end of the day, employers can build their own in-house piece."

The University of Michigan, for one, will see its drug costs increase 6.5 percent this year, says Keith Bruhnsen, who manages the school’s prescription drug plan. When compared with the 13.8 percent increase expected nationally, according to an annual survey published by the Segal Co., the school’s cost containment efforts seem to pay off.

The three-year transition from PBM dependency to "insourcing" Michigan’s own drug benefits required Bruhnsen to hire a data analyst, a pharmacist and other support staff. Bruhnsen mined his newfound data to learn which drugs the school’s insured population consumed most. Armed with detailed information about its drug spending habits, the pharmacist built the drug formulary and set up co-pays that would encourage the use of certain drugs. Finally, Bruhnsen, who was already on staff, was able to play the role of PBM and negotiate the prices the school was willing to pay for chain pharmacies to dispense the drugs.

"If (employers) are not managing their claims and looking at their data, they are not going to be managing their drug trend and therefore their overall costs," Bruhnsen says. "Are employers willing to take on the challenge?"

The Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, the industry group representing the estimated 50 PBMs nationwide, says the marketplace has determined that PBMs save money for employers by offering a service outside the core expertise of most.

"The reason everybody uses a PBM, though no one is required to, is because of the savings," says association president Mark Merritt. "If employers can do it and find a new way to build a better mousetrap, more power to them."

Bruhnsen says companies with 5,000 or more employees should be managing their own pharmaceutical spending.

Smaller companies and unions can still do so, Bell says, by forming coalitions—which requires cooperation and data sharing.

Bell argues that when a company owns its claims data, it can negotiate prices with manufacturers just as easily as a small or startup PBM.

"The real power lies in who owns the data," Bell says.

Coalitions, however, do not always succeed. In 2004, the HR Policy Association made a big splash by announcing it was going to eliminate PBMs. By the end of the year the association realized the effort was "unfeasible," says spokeswoman Marisa Milton. Part of the problem was that while employers pooled their purchasing power, each insisted on administering its own program. As a result, each manufacturer had to deal separately with each employer.

Similarly, Health Insurance Plan of New York tried to manage its pharmacy benefit plan several years ago, but ran into static from manufacturers and chain pharmacies. Manufacturers preferred to deal with pharmacy benefit managers because PBMs, which represent millions of consumers, purchase more drugs, says Edward Kaplan, a health care consultant at the Segal Co.

For companies and coalitions looking to cut out PBMs, the market may be more accommodating now than it has been in recent years. Today, PBMs have also become mail-order pharmacies, which is beginning to change the dynamic of the industry. Mail order is a growing business that competes directly with chain pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens. Employers that eliminate PBMs and negotiate directly with chain pharmacies will likely find a willing partner, Kaplan says.

"It just depends on how aggressive you want to be," Bruhnsen says. "For us, we went full-tilt."

Workforce Management, September 25, 2006, p. 34

Paul Boyer to Juanita Rusk: Vote for Sam Collette in OEA-R election

Paul Boyer to Juanita Rusk, October 12, 2006

Juanita, we received our voter information today and there is only one name that I would vote for. There are several that I know personally but they are avid OEA supporters.
The one I would vote for is Sam Collette. He is a veteran and usually asks some good questions. You do not have to vote for the number they say is the maximum. I ever voted only for those I knew and supported. The fewer you vote for the greater chance they have of winning.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Flashback 2003: Tom Curtis re: Montgomery and Petro

Letter to editor from Tom Curtis -
(Tom, what you said in 2003 is still true and appropriate! John)
Montgomery, Petro owe pension systems money for their lack of oversight
Sunday, November 23, 2003

It is my opinion that both state Auditor Betty Montgomery and Attorney General Jim Petro have failed the members of the five Ohio public retirement systems and Ohio taxpayers by providing little oversight concerning these systems, when, in fact, one or both has a representative seated on the board of each system.

Consequently, the members and taxpayers paid for oversight, received none, and now are being told both state officials claim a conflict of interest in providing any further action. This is totally unbelievable!

Not only have Montgomery and Petro failed to provide oversight for the pension systems, but to date, it appears they have failed to initiate any investigation into the extravagant spending practices by the caretakers of these funds.

It is my opinion this needs to be determined. This can only be determined through a forensic audit of each system.

So just what are they doing for us? Where have they been? What are they going to do? Who provides for their apparent lack of accountability? What consequences should they receive?

At the very least, it would seem appropriate that the cost of having their representative on each board should be reimbursed to each system.

When is this outrageous spending and the feeling of entitlement by these executives going to end?



Don Gatchell: Ted Strickland is the Better Choice for Ohio Governor

From Don Gatchell, October 12, 2006
Subject: Strickland Letter to the Editor.doc
Letter to the CORE Membership
Ted Strickland is the Better Choice for Ohio Governor
Ted Strickland is the better choice for Ohio Governor. He has been a true friend to all of Ohio, not just to the 500,000 people in his Congressional District.
Even though his opponent launched a campaign to smear his reputation, Ted has relied on his religious education to help him "turn the other cheek." He is one of nine children so he understands the worries that many Ohio families have. Ted understands the "wish list" of Ohioans includes more good-paying jobs, good schools for our children, affordable college education, smaller medical bills and lower health insurance costs.
Too many Ohio jobs have gone to other states and even other countries. Also, the school funding issue is still being ignored, college tuition bills continue to rise and medical costs are sky high. Many Ohioans still do not have adequate health insurance. In fact, Ted has paid for his own health insurance and will continue until all Ohioans have adequate health coverage.
Kenneth Blackwell and I were grad students in the 1970's at Xavier University. In fact, he was the grad assistant who taught my first education course. Kenneth is an articulate speaker with a great deal of political experience. However, he cannot provide the leadership the Ohio Governor's office desperately needs now. Too many Ohioans are still upset with the massive '04 election problems that happened under Mr. Blackwell's watch as the top elections official.
Both candidates for Secretary of State said their primary goal is to restore voter confidence in Ohio's election system.(a) Even President Bush expressed his displeasure with Mr. Blackwell.(b) The reason: in 2004 Mr. Blackwell created a 'conflict of interest' by serving as both the chief elections officer and the President's campaign chairman in Ohio. It was also revealed that he held shares of stock in the Diebold Company, a maker of voting machines, during the time counties were supposed to be buying new machines.
Kenneth Blackwell is too tightly associated with the excesses and the ineptitude of the party of Gov. Taft. He claims to have distanced himself from Mr. Taft. However, this past summer the Tafts hosted a large fund-raiser for Blackwell and raised thousands of dollars for his campaign.(c) The Taft party controls the governor's office, the top state administrative offices and both houses of the General Assembly. This is literally a government monopoly that has eroded the founding fathers concept of "checks and balances."
The ineffectiveness of the last eight years must end in November. We need a strong government leader not influenced by the Taft party "pay to play" politics. Ted Strickland will help restore a government system like our forefathers envisioned. He will prevent ineffective government by ending the one-party monopoly rule we have endured.
Ted Strickland's campaign for Governor of Ohio is supported by a wide range of people to include women, men, young people, senior citizens, urban & rural folks, NRA hunters, military veterans, many Republicans, Democrats, Independents, unions and corporate executives. Recently, several major Ohio newspapers endorsed Mr. Strickland. It looks like most Ohioans agree that Ted Strickland is the better choice for our next Governor!
Don Gatchell, Jr. Member,
Chillicothe, Ohio

Sources for Citations:
(a) Cleveland Plain Dealer 9-27-06
(b) State of Denial: Bush At War, Part III pub. 2006 By Bob Woodward
(c) Cleveland Plain Dealer 9-27-06

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

From RH Jones: Sen. Dann needs our help; and a sale too good to pass up

From RH Jones, 10/11/06
The Beacon this morning, 10/11/06, mentions that our Marc Dann is falling behind in the polls to Betty Montgomery who has a 10 pt. lead. We need to do whatever we can to get Marc Dann elected: Write letters to the editor, send him campaign money, phone friends and relatives! We can not tolerate her in office any longer. By her ignoring our pleas for help, she has allowed too much damage to our STRS. Act quickly, as the absentee ballots will be mailed out soon. And, to be sure your vote is counted, those of you that are voting by absentee ballot, be sure to put at least 87-cents or two 49-cent stamps on the return envelope.
Since Ken Blackwell has ties with the manufacturer of the new voting machines, to insure that your vote is properly counted, vote by absentee ballot. It is not too late to send an application to your local election board.
From RH Jones, 10/11/06
To all:
Tomorrow, 10/12/06 thru 10/17, Borders & Waldenbooks are offering 25% off regular prices! I do not wish to hurt other book stores, but the 25% is hard to beat. With the holidays coming, and bad weather, active& retired teachers do read do a lot. A good chance, also, to stock up on 2008 calendars. DVD's is 20% however; and video games is 10% discount; no on-line sales. Enjoy your shopping in person, and bring proof of your active or retired teacher status.
Note: For our members, friends & families, I don't wish to crowd the e-mails, but I thought this discount is too good to pass up.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Understatement of the year

You got it, Betty! The same as you did as an STRS Board member!

~ John Curry
Tom Noe and Betty Montgomery


From Molly Janczyk, October 10, 2006
Subject: STRS BOARD MEETING: Public Notice 10/18-20/06
We elect Board Members. It is NOT enough to then walk away leaving them to fight our battles.
CORE MEETS at 11:45 in the second floor Sublett Room (not the small room behind it, where we usually meet). Election of officers Membership concerns and issues.
Note from Kathie: Molly is right. We all worked darned hard to get Dennis and John elected to the Board. I suspect now that there are those who think everything's OK, now that they're there. Nothing could be further from the truth -- the battle has just begun!! Too much of the Old Mentality is still there!! WE ALL NEED TO STAND FIRM BEHIND OUR TEAM! You need to BE THERE IF YOU POSSIBLY CAN. It makes a HUGE difference in the demeanor of the rest of the Board when they KNOW we are right there watching their every move, and observing their attitudes and treatment of our guys. I know I can't always be there, but I rarely miss, as I have to this month. Remember: it's YOUR future; YOU need to take responsibility for it. Our credibility is only as good as our involvement. KBB

Monday, October 09, 2006

AARP discovers what many of us have been pushing - A National Health Care Plan-Get that delete button ready!

From John Curry, October 9, 2006
Finally, finally,finally - the majority of voters have been "pinched" to the point that they now understand why we are the only industrialized country in the world that does not have national health care. Our economy has been devastated by sales of foreign products (autos, cameras, steel, etc.) from countries whose manufactured products do not have the "built-in" costs of healthcare added to the price of their wares. Maybe the table will soon be leveled. It's a sad day in the U.S. when people have to be gouged into poverty with healthcare bills before they wake up and smell the bacon.
STRS retirees were affected by poor planning by those formerly in charge and who were supposed to be looking out for our future welfare. Our fellow non-teaching citizens' healthcare was also ignored by those in the majority of Congress at the federal level. Privatizing of healthcare in this country has lined too many campaign coffers at the expense of the citizenry - the citizenry is now waking up. If I seem to "come on too strong" on this issue - I apologize - but I'd sooner see tax dollars go for the welfare of U.S. citizens rather than into pockets of CEO's who are profiteering by this rape of the American public. If you require further proof of this, I will be glad to furnish it - cases in point: the obscene salaries of the pharmaceutical executives who use taxpayer monies to aid in the development of their products through the National Institutes of Health, the "double dealing" that we have seen by agents/brokers of healthcare insurance policies (i.e. the Columbus City Schools) to governmental bodies, the obscene salaries of the CEO's in "not-for-profit(!)" hospitals around this country, and the list goes on and on. Just ask, I'll furnish you with stats - I'll fill your computer!
P.S. - For those who would criticize and say that nationalizing healthcare would be a socialistic and/or communistic practice I say to them - maybe they should take a look at the concepts of Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare. Then tell me that these programs aren't "nationalized." If they still find these programs offensive, they can always give monies back, can't they? John
From: Frank Kaiser
Sent: Monday, October 09, 2006
Subject: [SeniorNews] Voters Favor Candidates Who Support a Plan For National Health Care Coverage - from Suddenly Senior

Voters Favor Candidates Who Support a Plan For National Health Care Coverage

AARP 'Election Watch' Poll Finds Voters Support Minimum Health Care Benefits

10/9/2006 9:37:00 AM

To: National Desk, Political Reporter

Contact: Steve Hahn of AARP, 202-434-2560, or

WASHINGTON, Oct. 9 /U.S. Newswire/ -- More than three quarters (77 percent) of those likely to go to polls in November say they are likely to vote for a candidate who supports a plan for national health care coverage, finds a new election poll commissioned by AARP.

As the mid-term election nears, AARP has been polling baby boomer-age and older voters on the issues its members have indicated they want to hear about in national and state political debate.

"Health care has become less affordable and less accessible," explained David Sloane, senior managing director of government relations for AARP. "The voter anxiety reflected in this poll is the result of a system that is inefficient, at the mercy of uncontrollable costs and is leaving tens of millions of people without health insurance."

The AARP poll measured opinions of likely voters age 42 and above. It found that nearly eight in 10 (78 percent) agree that the federal government should see that everyone has at least minimum health insurance benefits. The greatest numbers of respondents who support minimum benefits are boomer voters (ages 51 to 60). That same age cohort remains largely undecided with 61 percent saying they have yet to decide who they will vote for.

Health care is a top concern among this group of highly active voters, and AARP wants voters to have better information on candidates' views on health care issues. The "AARP Election Watch" poll found that 86 percent of the respondents claim they will vote in November. AARP is sending an important message to voters this fall, "Don't Vote -- until you know where the candidates stand." The leading organization for Americans age 50 and above is helping its members learn the facts by posting links to candidate Web sites and AARP voter guides at

In addition to AARP voter guides in which the candidates express their positions in their own, unedited, words, AARP has co-sponsored gubernatorial candidate forums on health care in many states.

"AARP Election Watch: Pulse of a Generation" polled 1,501 ages 42 and over. It was conducted between Sept. 25 and Oct. 1. Now through Election Day, Election Watch polls will be released weekly. Next week's poll will examine another important health care issue long-term care.

Full copies of this and other AARP "Election Watch: Pulse of a Generation" polls, can be accessed at

John Curry: Tim Myers letter -- you have asked so, here it is!

From John Curry, October 9, 2006
This is the letter (to me at my Yahoo email address) from Tim Myers (on June 12, 2003) that Paul Boyer has related to. Tim, an active teacher at Elida Schools (in Allen County), has been mentioned as a possible candidate for an open STRS Board seat. After combing through the June 8, 2003 Cleveland Plain Dealer STRS article, I am still having difficulty finding "too many flaws in Leone's accusations." In fact, I couldn't find any flaws. Maybe Tim could assist me?
As far as Tim's query, "Are you following Leone blindly," I say, no -- not then and not today. My eyes are wide open, just as they were in June 2003. Dr. Leone's 13 page report HAS passed the test of time and still stands today as an expose' of the "mismanagement" that has existed at STRS.
I stand behind what I said to Tim in June of 2003 and I still stand behind it I today.
John, a Proud CORE member
From: Tim Myers
To: John Curry
Date: Thu, 12 Jun 2003
Subject: Re: Leone email
Did you read the article about STRS in the Plain Dealer? It gives an objective report on the problem. They did some of their own research, and find too many flaws in Leone's accusations.
It was on the front page of the Sunday June 8th edition.
Was there an excess? Yes. Was there mismanagement? No. Did the excess have anything to do with the health care problem? Absolutely not.
Don't get me wrong, I do not trust Herb Dyer. But I do trust the teachers on the board, Joe Endry, and two of the three statutory representatives.
And John, if I was an ass-kissing person, I would have never engaged you in this dialogue. That is why I have been going to each meeting personally to find out what is going on. Are you following Leone blindly? The next insurance meeting is next Thursday (19th) at 9:00 in the STRS building. Come to the meeting and find out for yourself.
From John:
Tim, if the OEA has been so vigilant and so worried about the plight of retirees, then they wouldn't have let this entire mess happen in the first place. They have manned the STRS board with a majority (5/9) of the board. They were asleep at the helm of the ship they should have been minding. Thanks to their carelessness, the ship is sinking. Wake up, open up your eyes and stop kissing the OEA's ass.
From Tim Myers:
OEA released this statement today.
Tim Myers
NEA Board of Directors
OEA Statement
As officers of the Ohio Education Association, we are very much aware of the allegations toward STRS contained in the document written and widely distributed by Dennis Leone, Superintendent of Chillicothe City Schools. Despite his efforts to discredit STRS management, the OEA remains committed to working with STRS and its staff to find solutions to the health care crisis that is affecting our members. Especially through our work with the Health Care Advocates for STRS, the OEA?s focus remains on fixing the problem, rather than fixing blame.
Although Mr. Leone?s allegations raise concerns, many of the incidents he wants ?corrected? occurred in the past and cannot be changed. The context in which he addresses these issues appears to be of his own creation. The STRS Board and management have addressed the issues Mr. Leone presents. These issues need to be reviewed continually and any resulting change needs to be for the benefit of current and future retirees. The present members of the STRS Board are committed to improving the operation of STRS. We encourage them to communicate these improvements to members. While improving its operation is important, STRS is finding solutions to the health care crisis for now and in the future. The OEA supports this effort.
Mr. Leone?s motives for his decision to broadcast his claims far and wide are unclear. Much of his logic is difficult to follow. In contrast, the OEA?s purpose and reasoning are clear: we will work with the Health Care Advocates and the STRS Board to protect and promote the welfare of current and future STRS beneficiaries. We respect that ? first -- STRS must protect our guaranteed pensions, and recognize that the Board fulfills its fiduciary responsibility in doing so. Anyone can point fingers and create division, especially with the advantage of hindsight and when communicating about such an emotionally charged issue, but the OEA refuses to operate in that destructive way. We believe in the integrity of the State Teachers Retirement System and the individuals on the Board. We remain committed to working with them in a unified way to solve problems and create solutions for the benefit of our shared constituency.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Happy Birthday Blog!!!

One year old on October 9

STRS FLASHBACK-3 YEARS AGO- OEA's Eugene dodged the question, Ohio's Betty apologized, and Jimmy...well you'll just have to read to believe!

"Norris dodged questions from Wachtmann about whether members of his board inquired about spending practices before they came to light in June."

"State Auditor Betty Montgomery apologized, saying that during her eight years as attorney general her representatives on the pension boards, particularly the State Teachers Retirement System, should have done a better job of monitoring their decisions.

But an apology had to be dragged out of Attorney General Jim Petro, the former state auditor."

“Did your representative fail in his responsibilities,” said Sen. Robert Hagan, D-Youngstown, who earlier had put the same question to Montgomery.

“Absolutely not,” Petro said.

“Your predecessor accepted responsibility,” countered Sen. Dan Brady, D-Cleveland. “Couldn’t you accept responsibility?”

“That’s a fair point,” Petro said.

Pension system failures debated
By Paul E. Kostyu Copley Columbus Bureau chief
Canton Repository, October 9, 2003
COLUMBUS -- Two candidates for governor in 2006 disagreed Wednesday on how to improve oversight of the state's five pension systems, but a critic of one of those funds blasted both for ignoring their responsibilities.
Though six witnesses testified that they supported Senate Bill 133, omnibus legislation intended to reform the operation of the pension systems, all of them also had trouble with it.

They appeared before the Senate Health, Human Services and Aging Committee, which has put the measure, sponsored by its chairman, Sen. Lynn R. Wachtmann, R-Napoleon, on a fast track.

The pension systems have come under increased scrutiny since June after media reports, many by Copley Ohio Newspapers, about excessive spending and policy lapses while investment portfolios fell and member health-care costs rose.

State Auditor Betty Montgomery apologized, saying that during her eight years as attorney general her representatives on the pension boards, particularly the State Teachers Retirement System, should have done a better job of monitoring their decisions.

But an apology had to be dragged out of Attorney General Jim Petro, the former state auditor.

He and Montgomery have announced they will run for governor in 2006.

Petro said he has been warning for 20 years that reform has been needed. He said a lack of confidence in the systems is not new.

“The lack of confidence has been there,” he said.

“Did your representative fail in his responsibilities,” said Sen. Robert Hagan, D-Youngstown, who earlier had put the same question to Montgomery.

“Absolutely not,” Petro said.

“Your predecessor accepted responsibility,” countered Sen. Dan Brady, D-Cleveland. “Couldn’t you accept responsibility?”

“That’s a fair point,” Petro said.

Petro admitted his representatives on the boards fought for changes during his first term as auditor, but they were less vocal in his second term.

“I feel a little bit of responsibility” for that, he said.

Montgomery told the committee she opposes SB 133’s provision to remove the attorney general from the pension boards, while Petro said it was a good idea. They agreed that the Office of Inspector General should not have expanded authority to investigate the pension systems.

Chillicothe Superintendent Dennis Leone, who many credit with initiating the investigation into STRS, said Montgomery and Petro should have been watching the systems closer and sooner. He also accused all nine members of the STRS board, including representatives of Petro and Montgomery, of violating state law for engaging in “crazy spending practices.”

He said SB 133 does not properly address inequities in the representation between active teachers and retired members.

Both Eugene Norris, chairman of the STRS board, and Laurie Hacking, executive director of the Public Employees Retirement System, promised their cooperation to work with the committee.

Norris dodged questions from Wachtmann about whether members of his board inquired about spending practices before they came to light in June.

Hacking said she opposed changing the membership of her board. Other provisions of the bill she described as “reasonable.”

Mary Beth Hunter of Alliance encouraged Wachtmann to allow plenty of time to hear from anyone willing to come to Columbus to testify about his bill.

“I don’t silence witnesses,” Wachtmann said. “Take all the time you need.”

With a smile, he added he didn’t mind shutting up fellow committee members when they launch into speeches.

You can reach Copley Columbus Bureau Chief Paul E. Kostyu at (614) 222-8901 or e-mail:

Molly Janczyk: Tim Myers unqualified for Board position

From Molly Janczyk, October 8, 2006
I concur with Paul Boyer. Tim has not shown he has the skills to work cooperatively with a board and has issues statements untrue such and saying the Plain Dealer pointed out flaws with Leone's report which is untrue. When I several times asked him for flaws the Plain Dealer pointed out, there was no response because there were none. This is a perfect example of throwing out stuff hoping it will stick vs. relying on facts. The Plain Dealer and numerous other media sources confirmed Leone's report.
Tim was rude to membership when asked to keep down the noise at a board meeting and chose instead to ridicule membership. He is antagonistic and hostile. Being passionate fighting for membership rights is admirable. Being antagonistic and rude for its own sake is divisive and self indulgent.
Appointing Tim Myers would create huge dissension as to the type of character OEA wishes to seat on the board and further diminish OEA in eyes of membership trying to work collaboratively on HC legislation. Membership wishes a person who is an independent thinker only working for the best interests in membership vs. working for self serving indulgence.
Attending meetings is NOT a criteria nor a qualification for appointment to the STRS Board!
Molly Janczyk

Paul Boyer to STRS Board: Do not appoint Tim Myers

From Paul Boyer, October 8, 2006
Friends, here is my letter to the Board concerning the desire of Tim Myers to be appointed to the board to fill the vacancy of Mike Billirakis. I hope it does some good. We need many letters to be written to help them make the right decision. Some of the quotations were furnished to me by others.

From: Paul Boyer To: Steven Puckett ; Mary Flannagan ; John Lazares ; Jeff Chapman ; Geoffrey Meyers ; Dr. Dennis Leone ; Constance Ramser ; Mark Meuser ; Tom Johnson
Sent: Sunday, October 08, 2006 3:46 PM
Subject: Appointment

Ladies and Gentlemen of the STRS board:
It has come to my attention that Tim Myers has gone on record to be appointed to the position vacated by Mike Billirakis. There is a rumor going around that high ranking OEA officers feel that he will be appointed. That would be a disaster and I would like to give some evidence to that statement. If the board member's minds are already made up, then it seems to me that that would be a violation of due procedure.
I have known Tim for many years, going back to the days of my teaching and I retired in 1985. Tim is a very radical young man and if he becomes a member of the board then the board will never be able to get anything done. I feel very strongly about this, as do many other retirees, and if there were any way that I could keep him off I would do so but I think the most I can do is to write this letter to you and appeal to your good sense.
Some time ago, Tim and I had an exchange of emails and I am going to print them here. Please read the bottom one first and progress to the top.
"Paul, we just disagree on whose version of the story is correct. Or for that matter whether Mr. Leone is a savior or a crack pot."
"Tim, all I can say, then, is that if you were there when all of the misspending was going on, then you must be blind and hearing impaired or just too plainly stubborn to agree with the facts of the case.
From: Tim Myers
To: Paul Boyer
Sent: Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Subject: Re: article
"You are correct, you will never convince me. I was there before Leone started." (He also said that "changes were underway before he (Leone) stirred things up. That is absolutely wrong.)

"Sorry, Tim, there were no changes made until we started complaining about the misspending. Mr. Dyer and the Board were going right on spending as though, as Mr. Dyer replied to a retiree, (paraphrased) "The money is not yours; it is the Board's to spend as it sees fit". That is totally contrary to ORC 3307.15."
"I know that I will never convince you but I am sticking to my guns."
Here is some more. After he wrote to me what he did, several people (like John Curry) wrote to him and ripped him. He wrote back to Curry on June 12, 2003, and said, among other things:
"Did you read the article about STRS in the Plain Dealer. It gives an objective report on the problem. They did some of their own research, and found too many flaws in Leone's accusations."
Molly (Janczyk) blasted him after he wrote the above, challenging him to cite one single time the Plain Dealer found a "flaw" in my accusations. In fact, ALL that the Steve Ohlemacher wrote that day (6-8-03) was based on my research. Four days after Ohlemacher's article, the Plain Dealer editor praised me in a newspaper editorial. Myers never responded to Molly's repeated requests for a single example of his stupid statement.
Also, later in the 6-13-03 letter to Curry, Myers wrote:
"Don't get me wrong, I do not trust Herb Dyer, but I do trust the teachers on the board, Joe Endry and two of the three statutory representatives." That sounds like that means he trusted 8 of the 9 STRS Board members.
Let's see, when Myers wrote the above, members on the STRS Board included Jack Chapman (convicted), Hazel Sidaway (convicted), Eugene Norris (convicted), Debbie Scott (convicted), Michael Billirakis (convicted), Joe Endry (convicted), Betty Montgomery (removed pursuant to SB 133), and Jim Petro (removed pursuant to SB 133). Interesting that 8 of the 9 STRS Board members that Myers apparently trusted were either convicted in court or removed from the board for being asleep at the switch.
Mr. Myers is quite a judge of character, isn't he.
I feel compelled, in closing, to remind you of the words of ORC 3307.15.
The board and other fiduciaries shall discharge their duties with respect to the funds "solely" in the interest of the participants and beneficiaries; for the "exclusive" purpose of providing benefits to participants and their beneficiaries and defraying reasonable expenses of administering the system; with care, skill, prudence, and diligence under the circumstances then prevailing that a prudent person acting in a like capacity and familiar with these matters would use in the conduct of an enterprise of a like character and with like aims; and by diversifying the investments of the system so as to minimize the risk of large losses, unless under the circumstances it is clearly prudent not to do so.
Does this not also apply to your consideration of who you appoint to fill a vacancy? Please give true diligence to this matter as your debate and vote on the appointee.

Paul L. Boyer
Retired since 1985
Life member OEA/OEA-R, NEA, ORTA, CORE Proud to be named a "core" of CORE
These are actual copies that are filed in my computer. Please do some investigation on your own before you make the appointment.
Paul L. Boyer

Comments from Molly re: lower Rx costs at Wal-Mart

From Molly Janczyk, October 8, 2006
Dispatch: Sun: 10/8:
.........'the retailer is being accused of using already cheap drugs to lure customers. Industry experts say little more than a marketing move. Wal-Mart's list of $4 generics includes drugs listed over and over again. For ex. amoxicillin is listed 12 times at different dosages.
Of 3000 generic drugs, Wal-Mart chose mostly older ones already inexpensive and sometimes costing pharmacies less than $4, says Med Mutual's Ben Zelman of Ohio. He quoted hydrochlorothiazide to treat high blood pressure costs pennies a pill and sometimes you can find it for less.
People without insurance could save money on select drugs but most have co pays ((and with STRS/Caremark, if the drug costs less than the copay, you pay the lesser cost)).
Critics say some of the more expensive and most prescribed drugs did not make the list. Aetna spokesperson , Wendy Morphew, states these include Zocor, Zoloft,Paxil, Zithromax. She said the drugs on the list don't correlate with the high volume, high cost generics members are using.
If other drug store chains follow this lead, however, it could impact HC costs. Target has started a similar program. The campaigning has been a good public relations move for Wal-Mart which has taken hits for not offering health insurance for its employees says Alwyn Cassil, spokeswoman for Center of Studying Health Systems Changes. She says 'This is a little bright spot in what has been a pretty long string of medical black eyes for Wal-Mart' ((which I am sure most know regarding how they treat employees and many won't shop there as a result)).
((As previously stated, I pay $3.11 for a drug for 90 days; another $11.93 for 90 days, etc. If the drug is less than the copay, you pay the lessor cost already with CareMark. Check carefully! If it seems to good to be true, it usually is but there may be a few instances where you come out better if worth the trip and time)).

Dispatch endorses Strickland

For governor
Strickland has qualities needed to promote cooperation, progress
Columbus Dispatch
Sunday, October 08, 2006
Ohio is falling behind in jobs, education and optimism. It has been riven by bitter and closely decided presidential elections. More than anything, the next governor of Ohio must be someone who can bridge political gulfs and enlist the help of all Ohioans to make the state a national leader again. For this reason, The Dispatch urges voters to elect Democrat Ted Strickland on Nov. 7.
Though Ohio government has been dominated by Republicans for 12 years, the narrow 100,000-vote margin between George Bush and Democratic opponent Sen. John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election illustrated that Ohio is neither a red state nor a blue one. It is purple.
Such a state requires a governor who can work with red and blue Ohioans, who can cool the fever of partisanship with moderation and common sense. Between Strickland, who currently represents Ohio's 6th Congressional District, and Republican candidate and Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, Strickland is the one who has exhibited these qualities to a much greater degree.
Blackwell has proclaimed that he is the candidate of bold ideas. That's true. But his ideas alarm a significant portion of the electorate, including many in his own party. Boldness is not the test of leadership; sound judgment is.
His proposed constitutional amendment to limit government taxing and spending spoke to Ohioans' frustrations with the state's outdated tax structure. But as people began to examine the measure closely, they could see it meant devastating cuts to police, fire, education and other local services.
The weaknesses were so obvious that fellow Republicans in the General Assembly rushed through legislation to remove the embarrassment from the ballot and replace it with a face-saving but toothless statutory replica.
Because this plan was not a careful, thoughtful piece of work, it calls into question the thoughtfulness and care of its creator. Blackwell's suport for the so-called 65 percent solution, which proposes to fix problems in the state's schools by ordering every district to devote 65 percent of its budget to classroom instruction, is a similar big idea that simply brushes aside the details, such as the myriad differences in need among more than 600 Ohio school districts.
Strickland acknowledges that his ideas lack the flash of Blackwell’s. But they are more carefully conceived. Strickland proposes to continue and to expand some of the best policies to come out of the governor’s office and the legislature in recent years. He has endorsed Gov. Bob Taft’s Third Frontier proposal, which uses state money to nurture 21st-century technologies and proposes to expand such efforts. He also wants to allow the tax reform passed last year to play out until its effects can be judged. He pledges that all of his initiatives, including changes in health care, contain the means to pay for them and do not require tax increases.
On K-12 education, Strickland proposes to lead an effort to reach a consensus solution on how to retool funding. Yes, this could become just another go-nowhere, blue-ribbon commission, but given the emphasis each candidate has put on this issue, Strickland would be held accountable if he fails to follow through as governor.
Of course, anything the next governor proposes will require the cooperation of the General Assembly, and on that score, too, Strickland has the edge. Blackwell is a polarizing figure, even within his own party, and his bull-in-the-china-shop approach to politics is as likely to alienate the legislature as win it over. Strickland's moderation and consensus-building style are more likely to be effective regardless of the legislature's political makeup.
Strickland also has the superior running mate. Lee Fisher, who served well as Ohio attorney general, state senator and 1998 Democratic nominee for governor, is experienced and knowledgeable. Tom Raga, Blackwell's running mate, is a third-term state representative who is bright and promising but untested at this level.
Ohio's future will be built one brick at a time and will require all hands. Strickland is best equipped to lead the state forward.

Wally World begins $4 a pop Rx earlier than planned/Target follows -- who'll be next?

Chains will sell generic drugs for $4
Mark Chediak
Sentinel Staff Writer
October 6, 2006

The country's two largest discount chains, Wal-Mart Stores and Target, cut the price on scores of generic drugs throughout Florida today in a competition that's likely to spread across much of the nation by year's end.

Wal-Mart executives, during a news conference at one of their Orlando supercenters, said the company decided to speed up the statewide expansion of a pilot program in Tampa that offers a month's supply of certain generic drugs for $4.

They said the move was prompted by customers' response to the test program and by requests from Florida officials, including Gov. Jeb Bush, who attended Thursday's event in east Orlando.

When Wal-Mart launched its pilot in the Tampa area two weeks ago, it had said the program would be extended statewide in January.

Target, which matched Wal-Mart's prices in the Tampa market, said Thursday that it would do the same across Florida starting today.

Wal-Mart also touted an expansion of the $4 program's drug list, which grew from 291 to 314 generic-prescription types, or about 143 separate medicines. But critics accused it of exaggerating the scope of its offer.

A group representing more than 24,000 community-based pharmacies said the giant retailer's generic-drug list covers only a fraction of the medicines on the market and includes many older, less-popular drugs.

"If you look at the list of medications they are offering for $4, it represents about 1 percent of the total number of drugs available," said Bruce Roberts, chief executive of the National Community Pharmacists Association. "The question people should be asking Wal-Mart is, 'What will you be charging for the other 99 percent of the medications that people need?' "

Bill Simon, executive vice president of Wal-Mart's professional-services division, said the drugs now on the discount list constitute about 30 percent of all of the prescriptions filled in the company's 235 Wal-Mart, Neighborhood Market and Sam's Club pharmacies in Florida.

"We will continue to look at opportunities to expand that list," Simon said.

Wal-Mart also said it plans to introduce the discount program in other states by the end of November.

CVS and Walgreen Co., two of the country's largest drugstore chains, said they don't plan to match Wal-Mart's generic prices in Florida or elsewhere. They said many of their customers covered by health plans already pay comparable or even lower prices for the same drugs.

"For our patients with insurance, their out-of-pocket costs are very close to or in some cases lower than Wal-Mart's $4 plan," said Michael Polzin, a Walgreen spokesman.

Industry experts said generic-drug discounts will most benefit the uninsured, who in Florida number an estimated 2.7 million.

"I think it will be a great advantage for those who don't have a prescription plan, or [a] sub-optimal prescription plan," said Paul Doering, co-director of the University of Florida's Drug Information and Pharmacy Resource Center.

Doering said the customer co-payment for a generic prescription is still more than $4 under many health plans.

Randy and Verona Henderson, who were shopping at the Wal-Mart Supercenter on East Colonial Drive shortly after Thursday's news conference, said they plan to take advantage of the discount-price plan because they lack health insurance.

Verona Henderson, 50, said it should save her about $75 a month on her diabetes medication alone.

"It's a very, very good deal for me, let me tell you," she said.

Lonnie and Brenda Johnson, who watched the Orlando news conference, said they could get the majority of their generic drugs more cheaply using their health-care insurance.

"This would help only if any of the medicines are not covered on our plan," said Brenda Johnson, 66.

Bush, who appeared alongside Wal-Mart executives, praised the Arkansas-based company as a good corporate citizen and said the $4 program would save Florida residents hundreds of millions of dollars.

"This is a provocative, bold decision," the governor said.

Wal-Mart critics, including the union-backed Wake Up Wal-Mart, scoffed at the governor's remarks, noting that his administration had helped Wal-Mart qualify for millions of dollars in state tax breaks. Bush has said that the tax breaks were given to companies moving to Florida that paid more than the average local wage.

According to Wake Up Wal-Mart, which has been critical of the company's health-care benefits, among other things, more than 12,000 of Wal-Mart's Florida workers are on publicly funded health-care assistance, at a cost to the state of an estimated $60 million a year.

Wal-Mart recently expanded its health-care coverage to include more of its part-time workers.

Mark Chediak can be reached at or 407-420-5240.
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