They couldn't politically muscle the Stark County school system, but they (The Medicine Shoppe et al) appeared to done just that with Stark County commissioners at Wednesday's meeting.
Local pharmacies are smarting from recently (i.e. the schools September, 2009) installed mandates by the schools and the county (late 2009) to require employees to order prescription drugs via mail rather than from Stark County located pharmacies.
While the Stark County employee force is small potatoes (1385) compared to the 17 Stark County school district, these days every dollar counts to Stark County taxpayers. Every dollar unnecessarily spent on items like prescription drugs is a dollar more that will have to be made in cuts to local government services or with a future tax increase.
The only justification for the commissioners' action Wednesday in moving from a "must" buy from mail-order to optionally buy is the speculated saving of local pharmacy jobs.
But how many?
Darned few, it appears.
But it is election year (Commissioner Bosley running against incumbent Republican Todd Snitchler for the Ohio House - 50th and Commissioner Meeks being challenged by Republican Janet Creighton to retain a commissioner's seat), and the SCPR suspects that the sudden about-face by commissioners from last year's decision was more about these elections than about retaining Stark County based jobs.
Commissioner Pete Ferguson stepped front and center as the promoter of the turn about (from last fall) by commissioners. But was he really? Or was he merely the commissioner not up for election who could make it appear that the decision was not a political one?
Of comfort to Stark County taxpayers is the reality that the county has only received about 20 (at tops) complaints from employees protesting being compelled to do mail order after commissioners issued their fall of 2009 mandate. This is hardly a groundswell of employee dissatisfaction that commissioners tried to portray as part of the justification of Wednesday's decision.
Yes. Because, though it will add to the expense of county government, the added expense will not be as great now that it would have had the commissioners bowed to the local pharmacy pressure last fall.
The county administrator in charge of the county drug prescription plan told the SCPR that once employees get accustomed to the mail order scheme of things, they really like it and are not about to go back to traipsing to a local pharmacy to get their prescription drugs. And, of course, Stark County saves money at the same time.
Had the employees not been compelled to use mail order in the first place, the money-saving mail ordering system would not have gotten the toehold it now enjoys.
It is disappointing to The Report that Stark's commissioners caved in to obvious political pressure by the locals who apparently cannot compete with the mail order folks and thereby forced Stark County and its political subdivisions to look outside the county for a better deal.
One would think that those who cannot compete would simply "tuck tail and run," but not these folks.
They seem to have no reluctance whatsoever to dip into local taxpayers wallets for an - in effect - subsidy.
The Report is told that Caremark has promised the county $100,000 in savings annually. It won't be known how much of the $100,000 is lost to county coffers until July of 2011.
Here is a video of commissioner action taken on Wednesday.