The City of Yakima has been named the winner of the National Public Employer Labor Relations Association’s (“NPELRA”) 2013 Pacesetter Award in recognition of the City’s innovative efforts to control healthcare costs by opening an in-house medical clinic earlier this year. The clinic, which is being operated by miCare, a subsidiary of Montana-based Employee Benefits Management Services, Inc., officially opened in February. “We are very proud of the Yakima miCare clinic and are grateful that the NPELRA recognized what the City has done to keep costs in line while still meeting the healthcare needs of its employees, their families, and retirees,” said City Human Resources Manager Colleen Chapin. “Winning the Pacesetter Award is definitely a feather in our cap.” Chapin was on hand at the NPELRA’s Robin Hall Memorial Annual Awards Luncheon on April 8th in San Antonio, Texas to receive the award. The more than 2,000 public sector agencies represented by the NPELRA employ over 4 million federal, state, and local government workers. Yakima is believed to be the first local government entity in Washington State to open its own in-house medical clinic. By paying miCare a set rate for operating the clinic, the City is avoiding much of the overhead its insurance program usually has had to pay to private healthcare providers. The City estimates that by having opened the clinic, it will save its self-funded insurance plan as much as $326,000 this year, roughly double that amount in 2014, and up to $2 million dollars over the first three years the clinic is operating. Since the clinic first opened in February, more than 97% of the appointments that are available during the 26 hours a week the clinic operates have been taken. Based on that high level of usage, the City is now considering expanding the hours the clinic is open each week.

The clinic is currently staffed by two doctors, a mid-level practitioner, and a medical assistant. General medical services, such as lab work, physical exams, primary office visits, and prescription medication (dispensed both at the clinic and by mail order) are provided through the clinic to City employees, their families, and retirees.