WEST SPRINGFIELD – The town has received a wellness grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts for helping to improve the health of its public workforce and lowering health care costs.
West Springfield was among the winners of the nonprofit health insurance company’s eighth annual Municipal Blue Innovation Awards. The honor, along with a $5,000 grant, was presented Monday to Mayor Will Reichelt and other officials at Town Hall.
“We are honored to partner with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, as they offer a wellness program unequalled in the marketplace,” Reichelt said in a statement. “Our town cares deeply about the health and wellness of our employees and our residents. The grant will allow us to continue to create new and innovative wellness initiatives which work best for our lifestyles.”
The Municipal Blue Innovation Awards highlight new and inventive cost containment measures, collaborative and customized worksite wellness programs, and innovative health plan designs used by municipalities across the state.
West Springfield earned its award because of a collaboration between unions, Reichelt and the Town Council to design a plan that “satisfies both the need for cost savings and rich benefits,” Blue Cross said in a statement.
Town officials also launched a novel employee walking program, in which town workers cover the same walking distance as if they had scaled the “Seven Summits” of the world – or the highest mountain peaks on all seven continents.
Larry Croes, vice president of commercial and municipal markets at Blue Cross, said the rising cost of health care is an “increasing burden” for cities and towns across the commonwealth. “By crafting inventive cost containment measures, customizing worksite wellness programs, and creating innovative health plan designs, significant savings can be achieved,” he said. “West Springfield should be lauded for (its) efforts to advance the health of (its) workforce.”
State Sen. James T. Welch, D-West Springfield, praised the partnership between the town and Blue Cross, noting that West Side has “worked diligently over the past year to improve the well-being and health of its employees.”
About 79 percent of the state’s municipalities are customers of Blue Cross. More information on Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts’ Municipal Blue health plans and wellness options is available by logging onto www.bluecrossma.com/muni.