August 29, 2016
By Silver Krieger
A Focus on Mental Health and Substance Abuse Programs
New York, NY — The Teamster Center Services, a Taft-Hartley Trust Fund, will hold its 23rd Annual Health and Benefits Expo October 14th, 2016, at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City.
The conference sponsor exhibitors are a wide variety of health and pension benefit service providers from all over the country.
The event attendees are trustees, administrators, consultants, and key staff members of multi-employer and public benefit plans. The conference will have an exhibit hall with over fifty exhibitors, and the agenda will include five educational workshops presented by top people in the benefits field. The Diamond Sponsor is Empire BlueCross/BlueShield. “We found a real need to have member benefit plans network with vendors,” says Andy Johnson, Fund Administrator. “That is what our Expo is about.”
Founded in 1962, TCS provides advice, referral and case management services to the participants of its member welfare funds. It serves twenty Teamster unions, reaching approximately 28,000 families. It provides employee assistance and behavior health case management. “If anyone needs mental health of substance abuse services, they call us,” says Johnson.
Johnson says the program is very busy right now due to three developments. One, the Affordable Care Act mandated coverage up through the age of twenty-five, adding a significant number to the rolls. Two, the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act took all the limits off of the number of substance abuse and psychiatric admissions. Thirdly, the opiate addiction crisis – which Johnson says has been going on for a decade, despite perceptions that it is only a recent problem – has swelled the ranks of those needing help.
“We are here to help all these union members with these issues in a number of ways,” he explains. “For example, if someone needs to find a therapist for their child, they call us and we find the therapist and we steer them to high quality network providers in their area, for the child’s particular condition. In addition, we directly contract with the treatment providers, thereby typically obtaining rates significantly lower than their insurance carriers, and that brings significant cost savings to our members. Our goal,” he adds, “is to determine what is the most appropriate, cost effective form of treatment for the patient.”
Treatment Center Services also serves as a buffer against unscrupulous practices in the health field. “One of the most challenging parts of the last five years has been emerging unethical treatment programs, particularly in Florida, California, and Arizona. These programs try to lure patients into their facilities strictly as a profit maker, with every means possible, including drug tests that cost up to $6,000 per test. We spend a lot of time keeping people out of these programs. We have a very important role in keeping our member benefit plans solvent,” says Johnson.
Johnson says the Expo will be a great opportunity for exhibitors “to let local New York area benefit plans know that they are willing to come here to get their business.” For him, being a part of both helping union members on a daily basis as well as annually, through the Expo, is truly rewarding. Having worked at TCS for twenty-six years, he says, “I can’t think of any other job I’d rather do.”