Friday, August 26, 2011


 UPDATED:  08/26/2011 AT 05:00 AM

At Wednesday's meeting of the Stark County commissioners, Benefits Administrator Carol Hayn was in to see commissioners about some "housekeeping" tweaks to the county's employee benefit package.

Guess who, in particular, was all ears?

Commissioner "Pete" Ferguson, that's who!

His worry?

That the tweaking was going to cause Stark County pharmacies problems in having county employees get their prescription drugs direct from local pharmacies rather than through mail order.

Back in September, 2010 Ferguson spearheaded (CLICK HERE TO REVIEW) a move for commissioners to make mail order non-mandatory.  And, it appears that he continues to be eternally vigilant for local pharmacies.

Here is a video showing his reaffirmation this past Wednesday (August 24, 2011):

That is "all well and good" except that it costs Stark County taxpayers about $40,000 annually according to Hayn in an interview with the SCPR on Wednesday.

Hayn said that she only has two quarters to go on, but that the data from the quarters project a $40,000 loss in revenues from CVS Caremark as a consequence of the Ferguson-led effort.  She will know better, of course, once the results from all of 2011 are in post-December, 2011.

The SCPR believes it is largely fiction that Ferguson's sponsorship of the non-mandatory produces jobs for Stark County that anywhere near equals or exceeds the $40,000 loss to county taxpayers.  When he pushed for the legislation back in 2010, Ferguson did not produce any cost/benefit actuarially sound analysis showing a net benefit to Stark County.

Had he done so and made the case, then this blog would not be in order.

It appears to The Report that he took the "mere" assertion of local pharmacy advocates suggesting a net county benefit.  They tried the same tactic with the Stark County Educational Service Center (yours truly's spouse is an elected member of the SCESC), but it failed because a convincing economic/financial case was not made.  And Ferguson knew this, but decided to (along with then fellow commissioners Bosley and Meeks) yield to the political pressure of relatively few Stark Countians.

The fact of the matter is that most people (including yours truly) when they use mail order prescription would never go back to going to the local pharmacy because of its cost savings to them and because of the convenience.   That's where the mandatory came in - in the first place.  Otherwise, most people would not even give mail order a try.

The SCPR (being "freedom living") has no problem whatsoever with those employees who, for whatever reason, want to patronize their local pharmacy - to do so.  However, the freedom to do so should not be at the expense of the Stark County taxpayer.

It is sort of like those citizens who want to send their children to parochial school.  Well, they are free to do so.  However, they still pay their local school property tax.

Ferguson "can have his cake and eat it too!"  He and Commissioners Bernabei and Creighton should work out a plan to allow county employees to make their local purchase with the caveat that any cost over and beyond mail order be picked up by the employee not the Stark County taxpayers.

If shopping at the local pharmacy has the "value added," that local pharmacists say it does, then, undoubtedly, their county employee customers will willingly pick up the extra tab.

Anything less amounts to a local government subsidy to free enterprise!

Interesting in and of itself, no?

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