NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

March 25, 2013

Amesbury gets award for health care initiative

AMESBURY — In recognition of Amesbury’s efforts to improve municipal employee health care while lowering costs, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts has awarded Amesbury with its annual Municipal Blue Innovation Award.

The award recognizes cities and towns for successfully implementing health care plan changes and wellness initiatives to make care more affordable, and the city will receive a $5,000 wellness grant as well.

Amesbury was among the six winners, which also included Newburyport, Fall River, Ware and two health groups.

Over two dozen city officials gathered in the City Hall auditorium Friday morning to receive the award and check from BCBS, and Mayor Thatcher Kezer thanked all the employees for helping bring the city’s health care costs down.

“This was your effort, the employee’s effort, that made this happen and it made a difference,” Kezer said. “I know we all take our hits being in the public domain, but you folks are actually doing the hard work and doing the hard things to manage our costs and make things better.”

This is the second time Amesbury has won the award — it previously won in 2011 — and Larry Croes, vice president of sales for BCBS of Mass., said it’s very unusual for a single community to be honored more than once and the city should be proud.

“Amesbury in particular has had a long history of strong wellness programs over multiple years, and it’s unusual that [a city] shows that much leadership,” Croes said. “Folks look and think that you guys are very innovative in this town.”

One of the primary factors in Amesbury’s winning the award was the successful implementation of its Well Power program, which is a three-year initiative designed to help employees lead healthier lifestyles while providing them access to special resources at no cost to the city.

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