Empire Plan Offers Special Services for Cancer


Health Care spending/Dependent care advantage accounts


Empire Plan Prescription Drug Program Update


enhanced pstp Voucher Program for Fiscal Year 2006-2007


NEW Online pef training


NEW FREE Financial Counseling Services


NEW FREE PSTP Online Courses


NEW FREE legal plan






Empire Plan 2005 Preferred Drug List


Wireless Phone Discounts For New York State Employees






Benefit Update

If tomorrow you found out you had cancer, what would you do? If you're in the Empire Plan, you have access to special Cancer Resource Services (CRS) that you may not know about. The program provides paid-in-full coverage for cancer-related expenses received through a select group of providers recognized as leaders in cancer treatment.

CRS is staffed by experienced cancer nurses who can explain treatment options and help you choose the best physician and cancer center for a specific type of cancer.
The CRS network includes the nation’s leading cancer Centers of Excellence, such as Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. At these Centers, you receive paid-in-full benefits for covered services. No co-payments apply. For more information visit the Cancer Resource Services web site at
The CRS network includes the nation’s leading cancer Centers of Excellence, such as Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. At these Centers, you receive paid-in-full benefits for covered services. No co-payments apply. For more information visit the Cancer Resource Services web site at
The CRS network includes the nation’s leading cancer Centers of Excellence, such as Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. At these Centers, you receive paid-in-full benefits for covered services. No co-payments apply. For more information visit the Cancer Resource Services web site at

Travel Expenses Covered

If the Center of Excellence chosen is more than 100 miles from the patient's home, reimbursement for travel, meal and lodging expenses is available to the patient and a companion. Available coach airfare is covered as part of the travel benefit when the Center is more than 200 miles from the patient's home. Covered travel expenses are reimbursed in accordance with federal guidelines.

Using a Center of Excellence for treatment is completely voluntary. If you decide to receive treatment from a different provider, your Empire Plan benefits are not diminished in any way. Remember to ask for an Empire Plan participating provider to minimize your out-of-pocket costs. When you use a non-participating provider, the Basic Medical deductible and coinsurance apply.  

How to Enroll

To participate in the Centers of Excellence for Cancer Program, call The Empire Plan toll-free at 1-877-7NYSHIP or 1-877-769-7447 and select United Health Care. Then choose Cancer Resource Services to connect to a CRS nurse consultant. CRS nurse consultants can answer your cancer-related questions and help you understand your diagnosis and treatment options. Call between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday except holidays. If you are currently receiving cancer treatment from a Center of Excellence and you have never made the call to enroll in the Centers of Excellence for Cancer Program, you must call CRS to receive the paid-in-full benefits. 

Note: Cancer Treatment and Transplants

If you are enrolled in the Centers of Excellence for Cancer Program, you have paid-in-full benefits for your cancer treatment with the exception of transplants. The Empire Plan offers paid-in-full transplant services under the Centers of Excellence for Transplants Program. Because the networks for these two programs are different, the Center of Excellence you are using for your cancer treatment may not also be a Center of Excellence for Transplants. And, this may result in out-of-pocket expenses for you. To receive the maximum benefit, contact Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield at The Empire Plan toll-free at 1-877-7NYSHIP or 1-877-769-7447 as soon as you are identified as a candidate for transplant.

See a list of Centers of Excellence for Cancer or visit the CRS web site at for more information


As you requested, the following is a Benefit Update from the Membership Benefits Program.


Enroll in the flexible spending accounts

Health Care Spending Account and/or Dependent Care Advantage Account

and you could save hundreds of dollars

2007 Open Enrollment Period 
September 25 - November 10, 2006

You can enroll by going to:


You can also enroll by calling 1-800-358-7202 and a customer service representative will take your application. 
If you have additional questions you may email them to

Enrollment is fast, easy and paperless!

Save on your out-of-pocket expenses when you enroll in the

Health Care Spending Account, and on your child or dependent care expenses when you enroll in the Dependent Care Advantage Account.

The Health Care Spending Account (HCSAccount) lets you set aside any amount from $100 up to $4,000 annually to pay for health care expenses that are not reimbursed by your health insurance or other benefit plan. Only medically necessary medical, hospital, dental, vision, hearing and prescription drug expenses for you, your spouse and your eligible dependents can be reimbursed by your HCSAccount. Eligible expenses include chiropractic care, contact lenses, co-payments, deductibles, dental implants, hearing aids, laser eye surgery, orthodontia, and over-the-counter drugs.

The Dependent Care Advantage Account (DCAAccount) allows your family to set aside up to $5,000 in pre-tax salary for eligible child care, elder care or disabled dependent care expenses that are necessary for you and your spouse, if you are married, to work. As a result of collective bargaining, you may be eligible to receive an Employer Contribution to your DCAAccount, up to $700 based on your salary. Eligible expenses include adult day care, au pair, babysitter, before/after school programs, child care center, family day care provider, home aide, nursery school, and summer day camp.

It's important to estimate your expenses carefully. According to IRS regulations, if you overestimate your costs you may lose any money that remains in your account at the end of the year. However, you can purchase eligible over-the-counter medicines and supplies (a list is available at with these funds, as long as the items are purchased on or before December 31 of the plan year.

For additional information and updates, please visit the PEF web site at:

The deadline for 2007 enrollment is November 10, 2006 and is strictly enforced. Please be sure to enroll by November 10.




empire plan prescription drug program update

Below is an update from PEF - As of January 1, 2006, Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) and Caremark replaced Cigna and Express Scripts as vendors for the Empire Plan Prescription Drug Program.  The following information is current as of 01/05/06.

Please read the memo for important information re this:

Empire Plan Prescription Plan Update 010506

To read the "Update", you must have Adobe Reader.  If you do not, please click below to download Adobe Reader for "FREE"

Click here for Adobe Reader



Enhanced pstp voucher program for fiscal year 2006-2007

Below is a memo from President Benson dated 1/9/06 announcing Enhancements to the PSTP Voucher Program for Fiscal Year 2006-2007

Memo regarding Enhancements to the PSTP Voucher Program

To read the "Update", you must have Adobe Reader.  If you do not, please click below to download Adobe Reader for "FREE"

Click here for Adobe Reader

The PSTP Tuition Voucher program has been significantly enhanced for fiscal year 2006-2007 for courses that commence on or after April 1, 2006 and on or before March 31, 2007.

All other provisions of the existing PSTP Tuition Voucher Program will remain in effect for fiscal year 2006-2007.  Guidelines will be available through the Professional Development page of the PEF web site:


 and on the GOER web site at:



NEW online PEF training

PEF launches new online training program

PEF leaders realize that with time demands on everyone, it’s sometimes difficult to attend union training programs. To keep the PEF membership in-step with the newest training opportunities, an online program has been launched on the PEF Web site. It is available to PEF elected leaders, stewards, delegates and members to use to begin to learn about the PEF/NYS contract. The program presents information on negotiated agreements in general, and provides a broad introductory overview of the actual contents of the collective bargaining agreement. You may access this program by visiting the PEF Web site at, click on the Training and Education link, then click on the PEF training center button. 

Or go directly to the training site at:  

PEF Online Training Center

PEF has also produced a CD version of this training program that can be used without being online. To request a copy of the CD, contact the PEF Education Department at 1-800-342-4306 ext. 328.


NEW FREE Financial Counseling Services

Starting January 1, 2006


Access to Stacey Braun Web Site


PEF members will also have
free access to the Stacey Braun Financial Counseling web site.  You can visit them at:
The user name and password for Region 5:

Username: region5
Password:  pefmb

NOTE: The user name is case sensitive.  Please use lower case.

A Representative will be at the Glendale facility on
Tuesday, January 24th 
9:00 AM-5:00 PM. 

Please call 888-949-1925 to set up an appointment.
Meeting room to be announced.
The representative will also be in downtown Binghamton on January 23rd.  We will keep you updated as locations are established.


Below is a memo I received today [12/09/05]  from President Benson:


 TO:  Executive Board Members
Council Leaders
        Regions 1-7 Stewards

 DATE:  December 7, 2005

 SUBJ: Financial Counseling Debt Consolidation Program (Advance Notice)

 The PEF Membership Benefits Program Trustees have announced that the pilot program of financial counseling and debt consolidation has proved to be a valuable benefit and the New York City based firm is now ready to provide this benefit statewide. Accordingly, the Trustees have voted to expand this free benefit to PEF members in Regions 1-7.

 The firm of Stacey Braun Associates, Inc. has successfully served as the PEF Membership Benefits Program's investment advisor for over 15 years. Stacey Braun's professionals are available to work with our members to provide objective and unbiased advice. The entire funding for this program is paid by the PEF Membership Benefits Program and not from any of the investment products Stacey Braun may recommend.

 In addition to the free counseling service, PEF members will also have free access to the Stacey Braun Financial Counseling web site. Questions regarding this new membership benefit may be referred to PEF Membership Benefits Program at 518-785-1900, ext. 243 or 1-800-342-4306, ext. 243.

 Roger E. Benson

cc:  MBP Trustees: 
        Jane Hallum

  My hat is off to PEF and it's staff for another GREAT Benefit for our members.  I contacted Stacey Braun Associates today to receive additional information to pass on to our members. 

 This benefit will begin January 1, 2006.  This "FREE" benefit provides for a 1 hour in person consultation or you may also call them with a few questions.  They do NOT sell a product but assist you in a personal and confidential manner re: investments, retirement, Debt, Retirements, mortgage rates, etc.

 I will be setting up some dates and times where the representatives will come to our office and you will be able to make an appointment with them.  In addition, they are setting up a "User Name" and "Password" for our members to access their web site.  I will have more information for you next week, and will pass it out as soon as I have it.

 If you have any questions, please let me know.


NEW FREE PSTP Online Courses


A Memo was received today from President Roger Benson announcing free online course for PEF represented employees in the PS&T Bargaining Unit.


PEF and the Governors' Office of Employees Relations [GOER], through the New York State/Public Employees Federation Professional Development Committee [PDC], has partnered with Binghamton University to offer continuing education online courses FREE of charge to NYS Employees in the PS&T Unit.  These course are funded by the Public Service Training Program, Article 15.3 of the State/PEF Agreement.  


To see the memo, please click below:




To see the course, please click below:




To obtain all of the information and apply for the course, please visit this web site at:


Courses for New York State Employees in the PS&T






PEF's ALL NEW FREE legal plan [Effective January 1, 2006] for all members was announced at the convention this year.  The PEF Membership Benefits Program has engaged the law firm of Feldman, Kramer and Monaco, P.C. - a leader in the field of providing legal plan services to union members and their families - to help with your legal needs.  Through it's National Legal Office (NLO), attorneys will be available to answer legal questions, write letters and review documents relating to personal legal matters - all in the strictest of confidence. 


The PEF Membership Benefits Program serves as the administrator for the Legal Plan and the members' point-of-entry for participation in it.  Membership Benefits will assure that all members have access to the plan and will monitor it to assure that members are being assisted in a timely and professional fashion.  Membership Benefits is also on the job to help any members who needs additional assistance.


If you want to join the current PEF Legal Service Plan, you must do so by December 1, 2005.  The annual cost is $70/year - ($65 payroll deduction).  Click here:   

for the comparison from the current program to the NEW FREE Legal Plan that will be in effect January 1, 2006.  


We will be passing out pamphlets the first week of


  If you have questions regarding this program, please e-mail us or call PEF Membership Benefits at:


1-800-342-4306 - Ext. 243


·        Now you can book your vacation on-line with PEF Travel


PEF Members can now research and book a cruise or travel package on-line with PEF Travel Corp.  Visit  and click on “Plan Your Next Cruise” or “Plan Your Next Get-Away”.  You will be able to research most cruise lines, vacation destinations, hotels, prices, and availability.  You can then complete the booking on PEF Travel’s secure site or you can call PEF Travel to have one of their consultants do the work!       


Remember -- PEF members receive a 5% rebate on cruise packages booked through PEF Travel Corp. or on-line at .  Be sure to check out our “Cruise Specials” for cruises with extra amenities.


bulletTerm Life Insurance Open Enrollment – Limited Time Offer


PEF Members can purchase a PEF/Hartford $20,000 Term Life Policy from 4/1/05 5/31/05 with no medical questions asked or physicals required. 


Current participants in our PEF/Hartford Term Life program can use this open enrollment to increase their current coverage by one level without having to complete a medical questionnaire. 


For an application form, send a request to .  Remember – all applications must be received in our office by 5/31/05 to be accepted under this open enrollment.  Questions can be answered by calling PEF Membership Benefits Program at 800 342-4306, ext. 243.




ICE HOCKEY Ticket Discounts




To purchase the tickets:


BInghamton Senator Tickets


College BASKETBALL Ticket Discounts



COllege  basketball

  Tickets are now available through Membership Benefits. 


Click Below:





bulletBaseball Ticket Discounts


Baseball Tickets are now available through Membership Benefits.  For the 2005 season, we will be selling discount vouchers for the following local baseball teams:


bullet Rochester Red Wings
bullet Buffalo Bisons
bullet Syracuse Skychiefs
bullet Binghamton Mets
bullet Tri-City Valley Cats
bullet Hudson Valley Renegades 
bullet Batavia Muckdogs
bullet Hudson Valley Renegades


 Contact our office or visit our website for prices.


·       New discount movie tickets available


Membership Benefits is now selling discount movie tickets for Cinemark and Marquee Cinemas.  In addition, we will be selling Galaxy Unrestricted tickets for Loews/Cineplex/Magic Johnson theatres.  For a complete listing of all of our movie ticket discounts, visit


·       April’s Benefit of the Month – Term Life Insurance


Visit our website at to sign up for our April Benefit of the Month drawing – featuring Term Life Insurance.  The April Benefit of the Month prize will be a Pocket PC.  If you are enrolled in our Term Life Insurance, you will be automatically entered into this free drawing.


·       Albany Conquest Discount Tickets


Membership Benefits will be selling discount Albany Conquest vouchers for only $7.00.  These vouchers can be used to purchase Lower Level Corner tickets for any of the regular home games at the Pepsi Arena.  For information on purchasing tickets visit and click on limited time offers.



·       Lime Rock Park , Lakeville Connecticut


Lime Rock Road Racing Center is offering PEF members discount tickets for several 2005 racing events.  For details, visit our website at and click on “Limited Time Offers”.



For additional information on these benefits you can contact our office at 800 342-4306, ext. 243 or visit us on-line at


PEF Membership Benefits Program

PO Box 12414

Albany , NY   12212

Citizen Action Fuel Group (CAFG) is a non-profit fuel buying group sponsored by Citizen Action of New York. We have been helping New Yorkers save on their home heating oil costs for over 17 years. We use mass purchasing power to lower prices for our members. CAFG members can save as much as fifteen cents per gallon on fuel oil and kerosene.

CAFG serves 22 counties in New York State. dealers providing full service, including automatic delivery, budget plans (to avoid huge bills in the middle of the winter), and 24-hour burner service. Service contracts are available in most areas at additional cost.


There is a $25 Membership that is WAIVED for PEF Members.

Click the Picture Below for an Application


Fax your application to:  518-465-2890

To read the "CAFG Application", you must have Adobe Reader.  If you do not, please click below to download Adobe Reader for "FREE"

Click here for Adobe Reader

You must send a copy of your PEF Card or a copy of your paycheck showing the dues withdrawal [Black out your other items]  If you need a new PEF Card, please let us know and we will help you get one. 

Economy Heating is used for Broome County.  You can obtain additional information at:
or call 800-559-4645

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New Benefit for the Health Care Spending Account

Are you currently enrolled in the Health Care Spending Account?

Included in the 2003-07 PS&T Contract is a new benefit effective November 1, 2004. Over-the-counter drug expenses will now be reimbursable through the Health Care Spending Account. 

Reimbursable expenses include allergy remedies, antacids, bandages, eye products, cold medicines and pain relievers. Visit the Flex Spending Account web site at: for more information.

If you aren't enrolled in the Health Care Spending Account, OTC drug reimbursement is one more reason to take advantage of this money-saving program. Remember, you must enroll by November 10, 2004 to have your own Health Care Spending Account in 2005.

Visit for more information or to enroll online.

You can also enroll by calling toll-free 1-800-342-8017 weekdays between 7 am and 10 pm EST.

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Empire Plan 2005 Preferred Drug List

Express Scripts has released the Empire Plan Preferred Drug List (PDL) for 2005. As of 1/1/05, benefits provided will depend on whether a drug is generic (Tier 1), preferred brand name (Tier 2), or non-preferred brand name (Tier 3). Copayments will be based on the drug, the days' supply, and whether the prescription is filled at a retail pharmacy or the mail service pharmacy. 

To check the status of a drug, please see the Preferred Drug List. All the drugs listed on the front page and first two columns of the second page are either generic (Tier 1) or preferred brand name (Tier 2) drugs (generics are in lower case letters. The drugs listed on page two in the two right-hand columns are non-preferred brand name (Tier 3).

This list is only a summary of the most commonly prescribed drugs to make it more user-friendly, and easier for patients to share with their doctors. You should not assume that a drug is not on the preferred list if it does not appear on this document. If a drug is not on the list, contact Express Scripts at 1-800-964-1888. Be prepared to provide the name of the drug and the dosage (strength) you are using. Once the Preferred Drug List becomes effective on 1/1/05, Empire Plan members will be able to access the complete list online at the Express Scripts web site.

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Wireless Phone Discounts For New York State Employees

New York State employees are eligible for wireless phone discounts with the following carriers:


20% discount on service plans.  Additional discounts on equipment.  for details call 800 388-3235 or visit the Cingular [formerly AT&T]  Wireless store near you.  You will need to supply discount code -- GSM-82898 or TDMA-82891

For additional information visit:


Store locator for Cingular: 


 Call Membership Benefits Program
800 342-4306 ext. 243

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Recent negotiated changes in the Empire Plan Prescription Drug program have motivated many enrollees to consider using the Express Scripts mail service pharmacy for long-term medications. 

The following are frequently asked questions about the mail service pharmacy.

Q:         Why should I use the mail service pharmacy to fill a prescription?

Advantages include lower co pays (see table below), convenience of home delivery, and lower pharmacy costs to the Empire Plan through drug discounts and waiver of dispensing and claims administration fees. When plan costs are reduced, it means lower premium increases the following year.  

Drug Category

30 Day Supply Pharmacy or Mail Service

31-90 Day Supply  Mail Service

31-90 Day Supply Pharmacy













Q:         How much will switching to mail service save the plan?

A:             It is estimated that plan-wide savings from enrollees switching to mail service will be about $16 million in the first year. The savings from all the changes made to the prescription drug program are estimated to be $90 million in the first year.

Q:         I’ve been getting my maintenance medication(s) at a retail pharmacy.  What do I need to do to transfer my prescription(s) to the mail service pharmacy?

A:             The easiest way to transfer a prescription for a maintenance medication is to use the Express Scripts web site or call the Express Scripts Member Choice Center (MCC).  Members can go to and log on, then choose "Change To Mail Service" and follow the prompts.  Members may also call the MCC at 1-866-745-8597 to initiate the process.  Express Scripts will then call the prescribing physician and ask for a new prescription.  

Q:         My doctor is going to prescribe a new maintenance medication. Is there anything special I should do to fill it through the mail service pharmacy?

A:             If you need to start taking the new medication right away, ask your doctor for two prescriptions. Fill one immediately at a local participating retail pharmacy. Once you are certain you can tolerate the medication, use a mail service envelope to submit the other prescription to Express Scripts’ Mail Service Pharmacy for a 90-day supply. You may request a mail service envelope by calling toll-free 1-877-7-NYSHIP (1-877-769-7447) and selecting Express Scripts. Complete the “Patient Profile Questionnaire” section of the mail service envelope. Mail the prescription and applicable copayment, which may be made by check, money order, credit card or debit card (with a MasterCard or Visa logo) in the envelope to Express Scripts.

Q:         How long will I have to wait to receive my prescription?

A:             You should allow up to 14 days from the date you mail the envelope until you receive your order. Orders are shipped via first class mail at no cost to you. Express delivery is available for an additional charge ($12-$20). If the medication requires special handling, such as refrigeration, it will be shipped next-day delivery or overnight at no cost to you.

Q:         Can my doctor call in or fax a prescription to the mail service pharmacy?

A:             A prescription can be faxed from your doctor’s office by completing and printing a prescription order form at the Express Scripts web site ( You must register at the site, and then click on the link under Mail Service for Fill a New Prescription. The Fill a New Prescription page has a link enabling you to complete and print a prescription order form, which has the fax number for your doctor’s office. Express Scripts will send you an invoice with your medication indicating the copay amount you must send them.

Q:         I’m concerned that Express Scripts may charge my credit card for a higher copayment amount than I expected.

A:             With one exception, Express Scripts will call a member if the cost of his or her drug is $21 or greater. Prior to making the call, Express Scripts determines if the member previously received the drug.  If the member has received the drug before at the same cost, no call is made and the order will be processed.  If the member has not received the drug before at the same cost, Express Scripts will call the member to notify him or her of the drug’s cost.  If the member is not available, Express Scripts will leave a message.  The prescription will not be filled without the member’s consent, or when the member fails to return Express Scripts’ message within 2 business days. If the order was for more than one drug, the other prescriptions will be processed and shipped without delay.

Q:         What should I do if I have a question about the medication after I receive it?

A:             Pharmacists are available to answer questions 24 hours a day by calling toll free 1-877-7-NYSHIP (1-877-769-7447) and selecting Express Scripts.

Q:         How do I order refills?

A:             Refills may be ordered over the phone by using Express Scripts’ automated voice response system (1-877-7-NYSHIP or1-877-769-7447), or from their web site at, or by mail. Payment by credit card is required for online orders.

Q:         I’m concerned about the safety and reliability of the mail service pharmacy.

A:             Express Scripts uses skill and care to fill prescriptions and ensure the safety of enrollees. Two registered pharmacists check every new prescription. Information concerning drug interactions, side effects and other safety issues is included with your medication, just as with a local pharmacy. Your medication is delivered in a plain, weather-resistant package, ensuring its safety, security and privacy.

Q:         I’m worried about Internet security. How do I know the Express Scripts web site is secure?

A:             Express Scripts uses the most current encryption technology to protect your information. The web site uses a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol with 128-bit encryption. To take advantage of this security, you must use an Internet browser that supports 128-bit encryption. You can download a 128-bit Internet browser by visiting (for Internet Explorer) or (for Navigator). If you use AOL, enter the AOL Keyword “128 Browser” and follow the instructions to download. After downloading, you must restart your computer before using the 128-bit browser. Additional information about privacy is posted at: 

Q:         Is there a way to check the status of an order?

A:             You can check your order’s progress online at by using the “View Status” feature. Select the prescription number which is on your prescription label, and you’ll receive an order status update in a few seconds. You can also check your order’s progress by calling 1-877-7-NYSHIP or1-877-769-7447.

Q:         I’m concerned that my medication may be affected by temperature extremes if it sits in my mailbox all day while I’m at work.

A:             There are several ways to address this concern. Any drug that must be refrigerated will be packed in dry ice before it is shipped. During the winter months, if there is a risk that a liquid may freeze, you can arrange for an alternate delivery address, e.g., your worksite or a neighbor’s home. If your medication requires special handling, such as refrigeration, it will be shipped next-day delivery or overnight at no cost to you. Should you have questions about a drug’s sensitivity to temperature changes, you may speak to a pharmacist at Express Scripts by calling 1-877-7-NYSHIP (1-877-769-7447) and selecting Express Scripts.

Q:         Can prescriptions for controlled substance medications be filled by the mail service pharmacy?

A:             Yes. A complete street address is required (delivery to a post office box is not permitted), and an adult signature is required upon receipt.


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