Some Los Angeles city employees expressed support for keeping UCLA and… (Los Angeles Times )
Some Los Angeles city workers criticized a move to cut doctors affiliated with Cedars-Sinai and UCLA from an employee health plan and urged city leaders to restore access to those physicians.
The cash-strapped city opted for the slimmer network of medical providers from Anthem Blue Cross, in part to save $7.6 million in health premiums next year. The city estimates that about 2,200 city workers and their dependents may lose access to their doctors under these health contracts, which cover about 60,000 people overall.
Cedars-Sinai and UCLA hospitals are not excluded from the health plan network.
At a meeting Friday, more than 15 city attorneys, librarians, engineers and other employees protested the change. Several said they were willing to pay more to maintain access to their regular doctors.
Clive Grawe, a 60-year-old city traffic engineer, said he received a kidney transplant in 2009 and relies on doctors at Cedars-Sinai for his ongoing care.
"Those doctors have saved my life on four separate occasions," Grawe told the city's joint labor-management benefits committee.
Other city employees, sometimes in highly emotional testimony, described their battles with cancer and other medical conditions that require specialty treatment that they said is often available locally only at those nationally recognized healthcare institutions.
Miguel Santana, the city's chief administrative officer and a committee member, said any move to eliminate the healthcare savings might trigger the need for further employee layoffs.
A proposal to restore the medical groups from UCLA and Cedars-Sinai to the city's PPO plan failed to win enough votes at the city panel Friday. Anthem's Select HMO plan would have continued to exclude those physicians under that proposal.
The city's benefits committee will discuss this issue again Tuesday, and the full Los Angeles City Council is to take up the matter next month.
About 32,000 city employees and family members with Kaiser Permanente are not affected by these changes, which would go into effect Jan. 1.
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