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Comptroller's Office Reviews Massage and Acupuncture Bill

Massage and Acupuncture Bill: $1.4 Million

Review by the Office of Erie County Comptroller shows taxpayers shelled out big bucks over a four-year period so employees could receive massages and acupuncture

(Buffalo) – Erie County Comptroller Stefan I. Mychajliw released the findings of a review that shows taxpayers were billed $1.4 million over a four-year period so that Erie County workers could receive massages and acupuncture.  The review itself began when the newly elected Comptroller received his medical benefit package prior to taking office on January 1st, 2013.

Erie County employees are entitled to 12 massages and six acupuncture sessions per year.  Both benefits are covered by health insurance, with the exception of a minimal $8 or $10 co-pay.

“Before taking office I met with benefits representatives.  They handed me a list of massage therapists and acupuncturists.  I was told these perks were pretty much fully covered by a county health insurance plan.  Hard working taxpayers should not have to pay for massages and acupuncture.  For most folks, these are luxury benefits,” said Comptroller Mychajliw.







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“My elderly parents live down the street from me in Kaisertown. They are on a fixed income and struggle to pay bills.  Their limited income should not pay for workers to receive massages and acupuncture,” added Comptroller Mychajliw.

Erie County started the year facing a cash shortage and did not have enough money to pay bills.  An estimated $34 million cash deficit was identified on the first day of 2013.  An initial analysis shows Erie County will be forced to borrow $110 million in 2013 just to pay bills, a high borrowing figure not seen since the Red/Green Budget crisis years of 2005 and 2006.

“Every penny counts in the county budget.  Multiple ways to save could add up to property tax relief for struggling homeowners.  We could put more Sheriff’s Road Patrol officers on the street.  More Corrections Officers could be hired at the Holding Center.  Library supporters and Arts and Cultural groups are practically forced to beg for funds every year,” concluded the Erie County Comptroller.

The recently negotiated CSEA contract eliminated this massage and acupuncture perk for newly hired Corrections Offices starting on or after January 1st, 2013.

When considering the potential annual cost savings of $340,000 if these services were to be eliminated, our office will commence an audit on the overall cost of medical insurance provided to employees and retirees, how the cost of these health care benefits compare to those found in the private sector, if potential savings can be warranted, and the fiscal impact of the Affordable Care Act as it pertains to future budgets.

Click here to view the press release