Seniors, Y Tussle Over Silver Sneakers

Silver Sneakers is an insurance benefit included in more than 65 Medicare health plans. For a fee to a for-profit company called Healthways, seniors can visit fitness and wellness centers. Medicare and private insurers call it “preventive medicine.”

Silver Sneakers logoOver 13,000 participating locations nationwide offer all basic amenities, plus group exercise classes geared specifically toward “active older adults.”

The Westport Weston Family Y is not one of those locations. According to alert — and angry — “06880” reader David Meth, every other Y in Fairfield County is.

Meth provided the names of over a dozen seniors who would like our Y to include Silver Sneakers as part of its membership program, and introduce more  programs specifically for seniors.

Meth believes the Westport Y views older members as not a good business model.

He says that CEO Pat Riemersma told him a program like Silver Sneakers would bring in too many seniors. Part of the reason, he says, is that Riemersma told him of an agreement with the Planning and Zoning Commission that limits the total number of members. Meth says that Riemersma said the Y “needs to understand the trend before signing this type of agreement” (like Silver Sneakers).

A "First Friday" koffee klatch, organized by the Y's Aqua Fitness group.

A “First Friday” koffee klatch, organized by the Y’s Aqua Fitness group.

Feeling that seniors are less valued than younger families, Meth combed the Y’s website looking for senior programs. He found a “gratuitous” photo on the mission statement page, of seniors having lunch. There also is a senior aquatics program.

Of course, Riemersma told him, seniors are invited to participate in classes and programs open to all Y members.

“Yes, get on the same floor with 20-30-year-olds and try to keep up,” Meth replies.

“That’s it. Not another program dedicated to seniors: no fitness programs, no yoga, Pilates, weightlifting, walks in the beautiful woods, etc., just to name a few that are absent. Not even a link or page for seniors to direct them to the one program available.”

Meth is upset too about the special monthly fee of $57 for seniors. He says that is “double the price of any other local fitness center.”

YMCA logoRiemersma replies: “Silver Sneakers is not a business model recognized by the national YMCA. It’s run by a for-profit entity. Seniors pay a fee to Healthways, and Ys get reimbursed based on the number of visits by an individual. We are a cost-driven organization.”

Regarding Meth’s assertion about the P&Z stipulation, Riemersma says, “We are limited to the number of members, but it has nothing to do with seniors. We want to stay within the agreement.”

She says that financial assistance is available to everyone — including seniors who cannot afford the reduced rate.

A seated yoga class, at the Westport Weston Family YMCA.

A seated yoga class, at the Westport Weston Family YMCA.

Riemersma vigorously denies Meth’s assertion that the Y does not value seniors.

“We serve all members, regardless of age,” she says. She cites programs like Senior Fridays, pickleball and chair aerobics, while pledging to do a better job of publicizing senior offerings on the website.

And, she says, “many members are actually offended by the phrase ‘active older seniors.'”

She says she would love to have a face-to-face or phone conversation about this with Meth.

He counters that he will communicate only by email.

72 responses to “Seniors, Y Tussle Over Silver Sneakers

  1. Tom Feeley Sr

    Of course they are offended by “active older seniors.” It’s redundant. 😎 😉

  2. Seth Goltzer

    I could not agree with Mr. Meth more. I was shocked when I joined Silver Sneakers and saw that my local Y didn’t participate. 10’s of millions in endowments but can’t manage to offer the aging population a great health benefit. I hope this becomes a very Public issue and a big one at fund raising time.

    • Marc Aftab

      David is 100% right. Why is a “non-profit” organization with a $36 million endowment adhering to a “business model” that other, less well-funded Y’s surrounding our community do not. What is that endowment for? Is it to ensure that in Westport, it really is only for YOUNG men?

  3. I was told specifically that Silver Sneakers is not a good business mode by various people at various times in person at the Y. Yet the Y is a “non-profit” that has received tens of millions of dollars from the town residents, many of whom are seniors. Translation: “Seniors” are not a good business model. Every other Y in Fairfield County recognizes and supports this program. The idea that the P&Z limits membership to senior residents does not seem to stop the Y from signing up new members at regular prices.

    Does the Board of Directors agree with this policy that ignores the Seniors? Does the Board of Trustees condone dismissing Seniors?

    It is pointless to meet with Pat personally because then she can deny anything that is said during the conversation. But the facts are quite clear: The Y does not consider that offering senior residents Silver Sneakers will not bring in enough money.

    New Y, old way of thinking, ignoring the people who supported the Y from 20 and 30 years.

    • Jerry MacDaid

      There have always been plenty of Seniors in the facility when I’ve been there so I’m guessing we (I am one) don’t all feel ignored or dismissed.

  4. For anyone who is interested Silver Sneakers has been available at New York Sports Club in Compo Shopping Center. Bad News, It’s closing July 31st!

  5. Laurie Vogel

    To make matters worse, New York Sports Club is closing it’s location in Westport. That leaves this town without a gym that offers Silver Sneakers. Most of my fellow Sneaker members take weight conditioning, spinning and yoga and pilates. Many take two classes a day.We are an important part of this community and need to be treated as such.Laurie Vogel 

    Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE smartphone

  6. Dick Lowenstein

    Awhile ago, I had spoken to former Westport Y officials about Silver Sneakers and pretty much got the same answers as stated here. However, since then something happened: Last May, the Y received a $40 million bequest from Ruth Bedford’s estate. So money should no longer be a problem. And surely there is a senior lawyer who can research the P&Z ruling to determine what the facts are.

    • Lorraine Harrison

      apparently the money from Ruth Bedford went to other charities.. I think Ruth would be saddened that it did not go to support Westport Seniors.. the Y had a choice and elected not to offer the program.. I had a conversation with a Y fitness employee who agreed that Seniors are not offered sufficient classes.. I asked her to write a response but she said that ” I would lose my job” shame on those in power there… the Y is not just for young families…Westport in general cares about their seniors.. I emply anyone supporting this organization to have a conversation.

  7. Matthew Mandell

    The P&Z did not limit senior members, there is simply a total cap on membership, not aged based. That was part of the decision to approve the Y moving.

    The senior center is going to expand. This new expansion should take into account the physical activity of that membership which is growing and more vibrant. This should mean all sorts of options, both interior and exterior.

  8. Notice that not Pat Riemersma, the Y’s Director, nor any member of the Board of Directors or Board of Trustees has responded to these posts. But they line up to collect donations.

  9. Kathe Damman

    Too bad, since Seniors contribute to property taxes, local businesses and yet do not use Schools…..the largest Budget item! I would think Seniors would be much appreciated in Westport, even at the Y!

  10. Michael Calise

    I have no interest in having an oar in the water here. But, It sure is interesting that when the Y got its zoning approval. They argued that they were not a business and that argument was sustained. When Bedford Square was up for approval the applicant argued that the Y was a business and therefore all of the existing building space qualified as retail space and that argument was sustained. Now the Y has a “business model” which must be adhered to. There is a phrase for this which we all know well “Talking out of both sides of your mouth” Unfortunately it is a “business model” which is ubiquitous.

  11. Still waiting for Pat Riemersma, the Board of Directors, or the Board of Trustees to respond to these comments. Is it possible that no one among them reads 06880? Or that they believe if they ignore the issues and concerns of town residents we will all just go away. Perhaps it not just senior residents who are “not a good business model.”

  12. National YMCA has had a major initiative – Pioneering Healthy Communities – a community engagement process adopted by many local Y’s (but not Westport). Also, National YMCA has touted its partnership with CDC and Medicare in a related program called “The Million Hearts Initiative”. Riemersma’s previous Twin Cities Y is a full supporter of Silver Sneakers.

  13. Silver Sneakers is anything but bad business. Every time a SS member swipes his card AARP pays $4. 1 member 5 times a week is $20 X 4 weeks = $80 a month.

  14. Too bad that the Westport Y is so NOT senior friendly: parking, heated-therapeutic pool set-up, classes, charges.

  15. Marcy Anson Fralick -- Staples Class of 1970

    Living in a suburb of Tucson (Oro Valley) that’s very senior-snowbird oriented, I thought I’d check to see if our Y’s offer Silver Sneakers, as I’d never heard of the program. They don’t. And that really surprised me.

    Tucson’s metro area is about one million people, so I know it doesn’t compare to Westport, but there are many suburbs that are independent of Tucson proper, and tend to have very active senior populations (golf, pickleball, aquatics, Zumba, tennis, aerobic exercise classes, rock wall climbing, marathon prep programs, etc.) and there are many fitness centers and surgical rehab centers that have fitness facilities. Our climate is conducive to outdoor activities year round with some limitations in June and July due to heat.

    Despite our YMCA’s not honoring Silver Sneakers, our two Del Webb communities do, and their fitness centers offer much, much more than the Y. Also, Planet Fitness (three within 7 miles), Curves (all 7 within 10 miles), Anytime Fitness, L.A. Fitness (five within 5 miles), and many Urgent Care and private rehab centers have fitness programs that honor Silver Sneakers, as do all of the 10 hospital’s fitness and rehab centers in the Tucson metro area. Seniors are the lifeblood (as are the University of Arizona students) of Pima County which includes most of Southern Arizona, therefore, senior programs abound.

    My condo community (and almost all apartment and condo complexes) have excellent fitness centers and at least one outdoor pool. Now that I know about Silver Sneakers, it’s time to move beyond the pool and fitness room at my condo community clubhouse and join the Oro Valley Aquatic Center and Planet Fitness. Both are about 1/4 mile away and honor Silver Sneakers….

  16. What is the cap on membership and what is the current membership?

  17. Jerry MacDaid

    Let’s see if I can parse through what everyone is saying (and not saying) here.

    The Y says they have a town imposed limit on memberships so if they take on Silver Sneakers, they potentially displace $57+ per month members with lower revenue members which, all else being equal, would require fee increases for non-SS members. The Y, which is a charitable organization, also says that if potential member cannot afford the $57/month something, including $0, can be worked out. As an aside, it is doubtful the average SS reimbursement revenue is $80/month as suggested by Ms Negrin as the Y would idiots to not jump on that since it would be cheaper for SS to pay for monthly Y memberships.

    In summary then, the Y says that anyone that wants to be a member of the Y, can be, and can use the facilities irrespective of whether they can afford it or their participation in SS as long as they follow the rules that all their other members follow.

    The counter arguments boil down to: 1) that other Ys allow in SS members so Westport should too, 2) Seniors are old so we should get special treatment beyond the already discounted $57/month membership fee even if we can afford it, 3) Ruth Bedford was old so, because she gave tens of millions, all old people should get special treatment beyond the already discounted $57/month membership fee even if we can afford it and 4) SS folks are Y members so the Y membership cap is irrelevant.

    Going through them:

    1) I’m guessing other Ys do not have same membership cap issue so are in different position. Certainly if you can add incremental revenues and otherwise have excess capacity, why not accept SS members/reimbursement. You would think the Westport Y would want to look closely at this.

    2) Really? If you can’t afford it, the Y will let you in free. If you can afford it, you already get a discount. You want more? Would you expect Oscar’s to let you eat for free even though you can afford to pay just because you can eat for free at the soup kitchen?

    3) Really? Because you share a single characteristic with Ruth Bedford? Ruth Bedford was also a white woman that liked horses. So maybe those groups should also get special treatment even though they are otherwise perfectly capable of paying relevant Y membership fees? My limited impression of Ruth was that she cared about a lot of different kinds of people, not just seniors.

    4) This one sounds great but my impression at the time was that the limit was put in place as a proxy to limit the number of people using the Y. So having hundreds more folks using the place just by not calling them members probably doesn’t work. Perhaps Matt Mandell can comment on avoiding the cap that way as he was one of the leaders of the anti-Y relocation group.

  18. Sarah Hock

    I am a senior and have been attending 3-5* classes per week at NY Sports Club for nearly a year. I began because the Silver Sneakers coverage was included in my Medicare Supplemental insurance premium. Silver Sneakers classes were held 5 days a week at noon and served 10-20 people. I tried them for a few weeks but found that they were not challenging for me at my level of fitness. I switched and now take Pilates Mat and Yoga classes as well as Total Body Conditioning (cardio and free weights); there are many other seniors in the class. After learning this week that NY Sports Club would be closing at the end of the month, I contacted Silver Sneakers to find out what other clubs accept their card. There is no club closer than the Westport Y that offers classes that would be of interest to me. Instead of traveling 2-4 miles to get to a Westport facility, I will have to travel twice that distance. Not pleased that the Westport Y doesn’t accept Silver Sneakers — I am one of those who is unable or unwilling to pay the $57 senior tariff for something that has been free. (*5 classes during the winter; 3 classes during the warm weather months when outdoor tennis is available.)

    • Jerry MacDaid

      Unable to pay? Or unwilling to pay? Massive difference. If unable, send an e-mail to the Y and I’m sure they can work something out. If unwilling, I’m not terribly sympathetic – I’d prefer to get a lot of things for free too but no one is sympathetic. However, it does sound like you have the option to go elsewhere to keep getting it for free so you have that going for you.

  19. Jerry MacDaid is not only offensive in his characterizations of the people concerned about the issues raised about Silver Sneakers and the Westport YMCA’s dismissiveness of seniors, but his arguments, analogies, and assumptions are vacuous. His language is thoroughly demeaning:
    “Seniors are old so we should get special treatment beyond the already discounted $57/month membership fee even if we can afford it.” I do not even need to explain why this derogatory description of people who supported the Y for so many years displays more about MacDaid’s character than the people he is describing.

    MacDaid has also reduced people questioning the Y’s policy of ignoring seniors to the “haves” and the “have-nots.” If don’t have the money go someplace else. Sorry, many of us are Westport residents and have lived here for many years. Don’t tell us where to go. This is an issue of whether the YMCA is non-profit or not… a charitable organization or a business: Silver Sneakers (senior residents) is not a good “business” model.

    MacDaid is obsessed with “old people.” Just how old is old? “Ruth Bedford was old so, because she gave tens of millions, all old people should get special treatment.” This is sick.

    Then MacDaid mentions that the “old people” are offered a membership “beyond the already discounted $57/month membership fee even if we can afford it.” $57.00 is more than double charged by any other health club, so this phony discount is irrelevant, just as the phony P&Z cap is spurious because the Y keeps signing up new members and never turns down a family whose children want to join the swim team.

    As far as increasing the membership fees to other members if Silver Sneakers is allowed, it’s ridiculous coming from a “charitable” non-profit organization that has received many, many millions of dollars and support from members who paid, at the time the Health Center lockers were filled, as much as $112 a month.

    MacDaid also uses the analogy of Oscar’s and the Soup Kitchen to show what a complete sham his whole premise is.

    • Jerry MacDaid

      Dlm67 – First, am a senior so I’m perfectly entitled to describe myself and my peers however I’d like. I’m old, I’m cranky, and I abhor people who are perfectly capable of carrying their own weight looking for freebies for whatever reason. Frankly, if you can carry your own weight, you should, and should be helping others that need help rather than trying to be a free-rider on their backs.

      Second, if you can’t afford to go elsewhere, please send the Y a note and I’m certain they will accommodate you.

      Third – Dan usually deletes posts that do not disclose names.

      • David keeps signing in with his “Dlm67” WordPress name. I have spent all afternoon changing it to his name: “David Meth.”

        • Dan, isn’t your blog on Word Press? Whenever I make a comment, it goes directly to your blog and signs me in accordingly. I believe it is because you are on Word Press that it comes up this way. I never even use Word Press. As a matter of fact, I believe, way back when, I had to open an account with Word Press in order to comment on your blog. I have no idea why all of this occurs, and I have no problem with people knowing who I am.

          • OK, let me clear this up once and for all, since so many people prefer to divert the issues from the Y’s policies to “just pay” or go somewhere else and, now, the most serious issue of all: how I sign in.

            As I mentioned in response to Dan’s comment: When I first began to read his blog and went to post a comment, I signed in from the email he sent out and, as a result, that was the way my identity came up. And it kept coming up that way. I never use Word Press, but this time I went back in and adjusted it. Major problem solved. Everyone can sleep well tonight.

            But does the Y want to resolve any of the concerns raised? Does anyone from the Y care to comment? Do the people who who characterize Silver Sneakers as a free ride have any idea what they are talking about? In a word, NO. Silver Sneakers pays each organization per visit. So if the Y has an argument as to why Silver Sneakers shouldn’t be implemented, why it isn’t a good business model, then they should say exactly what Silver Sneakers pay per visit. But the Y will not. And it is far from a bargain.

    • Jerry MacDaid

      David – Thanks (or thank Dan) for adding your name. For a writer, you seem incredibly poor at reading comprehension. I did not suggest “If you don’t have the money go somewhere else”. On the contrary, I pointed out that if you don’t have the money, send the Y a note and I’m sure you will be accomdated. And if I did break the world down into haves and have nots, it was to suggest the haves should not be free riders while the have nots should be taken care of, not tossed aside.

      Or is you game to intentionally twist words for some sick personal reason?

  20. Senior Single membership is $57 a month; Senior Couple membership is $90 a month….as I personally do not think 3 times is a charm, feel I am being penalized for being single….

  21. Your justification for your obsession with “old” and segregation of people whom you have decided are the ones who have money and who don’t, what they can afford, and what they can’, and where they should go ignores the very clear point of this discussion: The YMCA’s policy of dismissing seniors and favoring younger families is about well thought out policy decisions about money and which members they value the most, not charitable obligations. Silver Sneakers pays for every visit. Your description of people looking for “freebies” or handouts shows your complete ignorance of the issues, but your willingness to denigrate the “old” people as you are so fond of describing them. So this is in no way a “free ride on their backs.” And just how exactly do you know who is or who is not helping other people? With regard to posting identification: I follow Dan’s form in posting and have no control over how it posts or what it reveals.

    • David, you keep posting with your WordPress account. If you sign out of it, I won’t have to keep changing your initials to your name.

  22. Still no response from Pat Riemersma or anyone from the Board of Directors or Board of Trustees. It proves their basic policy: Ignore the senior residents and the issues that concern them and they will go away. Shameful.

    • I am a senior citizen, and I do not feel ignored. I have no idea what your argument is, or why it is that many seniors feel entitled to preferential treatment whether at a health club, or the Y, or in housing.

  23. My reading comprehension is fine and I don’t twist words. Here is what you wrote: “However, it does sound like you have the option to go elsewhere to keep getting it for free so you have that going for you.” My reasons, as I have commented are straightforward and come directly from my discussions with members of the Y staff (backed up by others who commented) and my email exchange with Pat Riemersma, which is probably why she will not join this conversation. Go back and reread what you wrote.

    • Jerry MacDaid

      Thanks. I did re-read it. Perhaps you should. Or do you prefer the “twisting someone’s words by taking things out of context” game?

      Let me help you by reproducing the ENTIRE comment so you can hopefully understand the context for the sentence you extracted.

      “Unable to pay? Or unwilling to pay? Massive difference. If unable, send an e-mail to the Y and I’m sure they can work something out. If unwilling, I’m not terribly sympathetic – I’d prefer to get a lot of things for free too but no one is sympathetic. However, it does sound like you have the option to go elsewhere to keep getting it for free so you have that going for you.”

      So, help me out here. Lack of reading comprehension or intentionally twisting people’s words for some sick reason? Or some other issue you need help with?

      As for me, I’m now bored with this exchange.

  24. Rose Jordan

    This discussion is really getting tiresome! Just pay the $57 and get on with it! It’s a bargain. The Y has something for everyone – I’m a senior and I attend the Essentrics classes which are just perfect for our age group. And you can’t compare the environment at the Y with the NYSC – the Y is modern, clean and accessible. You get what you pay for!

  25. Elaine Marino

    The Y doesn’t want to allow Silver Sneakers (SS) participants as members because of the town’s cap on the number of memberships. If the Y allows SS participants, but the average SS participant only uses the Y twice a week, for example, the Y would receive only $32 per month from Medicaid per SS participant. If the average usage I have stated is accurate, the Y has a vested interest in not allowing SS participants, at the cost of not being able to add full paying ($79 per month) members due to the membership cap.

    A SS participant would have to use the Y at least 20 times per month ($80 paid by Medicaid) to be on par with the monthly revenue generated by the highest membership category.

    Here is my proposed solution: The Y allows SS participants, but with the agreement that the Y will track usage in perpetuity, on a six-month basis. If the SS participant uses the Y at least 120 times during each six-month period, he or she is allowed to remain a Y member under the SS program If not, the $57 per month fee applies.

    If the SS participant has a temporary medical issue, or relocates for a few months, he or she can use the three-month membership suspension option that the Y offers.

    Would this work? Or would it be deemed unfair because the benefit is dependent on usage?

    • That seems like a reasonable proposal to me.

    • NYSC packs 30+- every day into their 1 SS class. Most of them go all 5 days a week. The monetary benefit from AARP is greater than what members pay

    • I know members of gyms who use Silver Sneakers 5-7 days a week for classes (which the Y has comparatively few of for seniors) and pays for itself. The idea that there is a cap on membership seems not to include anyone who signs up at regular membership. The Y should open its heart and become welcoming to all, not just the people who fit into their business model.

      • Elaine Marino

        Bear in mind that what we don’t know – but the Y should know – is the number of members who don’t go to the Y very often. To say, “SS classes are packed” does not tell us anything about the number of seniors who could go but choose not to.

        Let’s be honest here: If I had a free membership to a gym, I would not be encouraged to use the gym more than normal because I am not paying anything. But if I were paying $57 a month, I would be encouraged to use the gym more to get my money’s worth, or I would stop my membership because I am not using the membership sufficiently.

        is it hard to imagine that there are seniors who sign up at a Y under a Silver Sneakers program and don’t use it very often? I am sure it happens. Thus, for those SS-eligible participants who actively use the Westport Y, why not agree to a free membership where a minimum number of visits is required, and let let the seniors who don’t use the Y very often worry about their own situations? The minimum usage model will likely encourage these seniors to go to the Y more.

        • Silver Sneakers pays the Y. It’s been said many times. Users pay for health insurance so it’s not free. The idea that you wouldn’t use SS because you consider it free only means that you are not concerned about your health. The Y business model seems to take precedence over its concern for the community of senior residents … So no one from the Y will respond.

  26. Elaine Marino

    David Meth: As for your sentiment that people who join a gym but don’t use it because it is free don’t care about their health – I agree completely! I am certain there are people have good intentions when joining a gym but wind up not going for whatever reason. And if it costs nothing to maintain your membership even though you are not using the facility, why not hold on to your membership until your desire to work out increases, your circumstances change, etc?

    These are the sorts of people that the Y does not want taking up a membership.

    So how can the Y determine “those who care about their health” from “those who don’t care”? Track their usage and continue the free membership for those who use the facility adequately. Problem solved!

    • Jerry MacDaid

      Based on some internet sleuthing, it is somewhat difficult to find out what Healthways actually pays facilities for SilverSneaker members to use them. It sort of looks like they negotiate on a case by case basis but are seeking discounts from “normal” membership fees. Thanks to public transparency laws however, I found a 2013 agreement with a municipal entity in Florida.

      http://www.mymanatee.org/published/REVISED%20April%2023,%202013%20-%20Regular%20Meeting%20on%20Tuesday,%20April%2023,%202013/E754ADDB-8992-4D9C-A920-216917D724C6.pdf

      Payments are $3 per visit/day capped at $30 per person per month (page 8 of linked document). Other articles I’ve run across appear to confirm caps. For example, a $30/month cap is cited in this article: http://m.sj-r.com/article/20140307/News/140309401.

      So it sounds like the $4/visit cited by Ms Negrin is possible but it is unlikely that the $80/month payment for heavy usage would be possible due to existence of cap. The reimbursement cap may be why the Y is unexcited about signing on to the plan for those seniors that happen to have access to SilverSneakers through their health plans particularly given the town imposed membership cap. (Note: AARP does not provide the SilverSneakers benefits, their related health insurance providers may in certain, but apparently not all, jurisdictions).

      • Jerry MacDaid

        The set-up and compliance costs related to the SilverSneakers program may also be off-putting. For example see except from http://clubindustry.com/forprofits/fitness_fitness_pays :

        “To participate and provide the required results can take some effort on the part of the fitness facility. The most time-and cost-intensive part of the partnership is developing a system to feed member usage and progress data to the health plan provider while maintaining HIPPA compliance related to member privacy, Life Time’s Gunderson says. Life Time Fitness built its own member management system that integrates all the health plan data. Moderate modifications were needed for each of the health plans.

        “It’s not for the faint of heart,” he says. “It takes a lot of effort to integrate a health club system with a health plan system.””

  27. The information link you presented is negotiated on a case by case basis. However, you left out the part about $3.50 per visit with a cap on $35.00 a month, even if a member only visits one time. Only if the member visits one time a month. Other Ys and organizations may be getting more as a previous comment said.

    Stop apologizing and making excuses for the Y and let the Y stand on its own and join the conversation instead of cowardly hiding in the shadows to hope the conversation burns out.

    This discussion is about policy: The Y is a non-profit organization with a very convenient “business” model to eliminate those people it does not want to be part of the community through Silver Sneakers. The Y, as has been pointed out numerous times, has a multi-million dollar endowment and received many tens of millions of dollars in donations for residents, particularly the senior residents the Y wants to ignore.

    How about making the Y live up to its mission statement to include senior residents: “Our Family Y makes free memberships and camp scholarships available for Westport’s Department of Human Services and Weston’s Social Services to utilize as they work with the 1,200 local families identified as in need.” Excellent for those who are in need. Seniors are not asking for free memberships. Seniors are asking for Silver Sneakers from the Westport Y, as EVERY OTHER YMCA offers. There are no free rides or handouts here.

    • Jerry MacDaid

      This is getting tiresome:

      “However, you left out the part about $3.50 per visit with a cap on $35.00 a month, even if a member only visits one time. Only if the member visits one time a month.”

      I assume you are referring to the Manatee contract and, indeed, I did leave out the $3.50 per visit with $35 cap because that applies to the “Prime” program, a completely different program from SilverSneakers where the relevant numbers are $3/visit, $30/cap. But you are correct, the per person monthly cap applies even if there is only 1 visit, however the cap is wholly irrelevant in the case of 1 visit. 0 visits = $0 payment, 1 visit = $3 payment, 2 visits = $6 payment, 10 visits = $30 payment, 12 visits = $30 payment and so on. Oh, and multiple visits in one day count only as a single visit.

      “…let the Y stand on its own and join the conversation instead of cowardly hiding…”

      I can’t speak for them but I’ve found that most companies/institutions generally choose not to get into online public pissing contests on Internet blogs filled with trolls like you and me. As I said, I old and cranky, so I don’t care. However, if Dan is correct and you refuse to meet with the Y to discuss this in person, “cowardly” is one of the words that comes to mind.

      “This discussion is about policy: …”

      Indeed it is. Perhaps the Y does not want to establish a policy of having different pricing policies for every group that comes along or establish a precedent of a la carte pricing. Say my healthcare plan doesn’t cover SilverSneakers. Should I (and everyone else that has a plan that doesn’t cover Silver Sneakers) get to pay for our memberships on the same basis that Silver Sneakers reimburses the Y. Let’s say $4 a visit (assuming Ms Negrin is correct on local reimbursement rates) with a $40 per month cap rather than $57 per month?

      Maybe you will convince the Y to accept Silver Sneakers but, personally, I’d say no, because that it is unfair to other members of the Y who are paying regular rates. But if you effectively get that rate, why shouldn’t I? Or anyone else? Except when based on need, establishing discriminatory pricing policies favoring one arbitrary group over another is not particularly fair and is a debatable “business model” as it will tend to piss off the bulk of regular paying members. And as you note, SilverSneakers is not a need based issue.

      “The Y, as has been pointed out numerous times, has a multi-million dollar endowment and received many tens of millions of dollars in donations for residents, particularly the senior residents the Y wants to ignore.”

      I’m not sure what the endowment has to do with providing special treatment for SilverSneaker members ABSENT NEED. Seniors already get a discounted membership fee, presumably because the Y wants to encourage senior membership, not to ignore seniors or chase them away. If your argument is that the millions mean everyone’s fee should be reduced to what SilverSneakers pays, well…maybe. But if that means the Y burns through the endowment until it is gone, I’d submit that would be a stupid and unsustainable “business model” for even a charitable organization.

      “Seniors are asking for Silver Sneakers from the Westport Y, as EVERY OTHER YMCA offers.”

      Yeah….um….no. Not even close. Some YMCAs do participate, including Wilton and Fairfield, but “Every other YMCA” does not offer Silver Sneakers. Not even local ones. As best I can tell from the Silver Sneaker website, Greenwich, Stamford, New Canaan and Darien Y’s, for example, do not participate in the Silver Sneaker program. Others around the country seem to be leaving because the economics don’t work. For example: http://www.dailytarheel.com/article/2015/11/silver-sneakers-program-discontinued-at-local-ymcas

      Rather than browbeat a group of folks at the Y that are trying to help the community as a whole, why don’t you go after that evil “for-profit” Healthways/SilverSneakers to directly reimburse you and fellow Silver Sneaker members what they would otherwise want to pay the Y and subsidize your membership that way. That would be fair.

  28. We would very much like to see the Y accept the Silver Sneakers program. Our health Insurance pays for Silver Sneakers because it benefits our health.and well-being. Too bad the Y does not want to “step up to the plate”. Every other Y allows the program. That beautiful new facility offers very little for senior citizens.

  29. Paul Goldberg

    The ymca is supposed to be for the whole community of the town not just what the board deems is not a good business plan. The building and support of the ymca in westport came from those people whom the new Y has now denied the program apparently is “not a business plan”. I go to a club in westport 6-7 times a week and they get paid daily whenever I go.
    So what’s the problem.

  30. “… the SS people want to be subsidized by the regular members.” Michael Petrino. This comment doesn’t mention all the other people and groups who are subsidized. Why just senior residents? Nor did he mention all the members who have overpaid for years subsidized the Y for decades.

    The Y would not exist except for the subsidy of people who donated the many millions of dollars over the years, including memberships as high as $112.00 a month when the Y was falling apart and providing horrible service and terrible leadership. But members stuck with it until the attitude became unbearable and entitled, as it has always been and continues to be.

    Now I guess the P&Z has to be contacted to learn exactly what the membership cap is, verify what the current membership is, confirm how often the Y is audited to make sure it is not exceeding the membership cap, and document whether the Y reports these numbers and the P&Z actually checks. Wouldn’t it be a surprise if no one is actually accountable? After all, it is the Y, and immune to all accountability.

    • Jerry MacDaid

      Dude, what is your vendetta against the Y? Did someone from the Y run over your dog? Steal your spouse?

      You can, of course, look at all of the cap data but, in the end, it is completely irrelevant to anything you have been arguing for. Even if there were no cap, you have made no credible argument why SilverSneaker members should receive special treatment versus other Y members, Senior or otherwise, that don’t happen to to be Silver Sneaker members.

      That you once paid $112/month may make you mad but does not entitle you to special treatment now. That was what was needed to keep the old Y open for you and others to use. A great number of people and families paid membership fees and/or contributed money so the community could benefit from the Y’s services at the time, not just you or other Silver Sneaker members.

      Rather than dwell on the past, you should instead be thrilled that the Y has been able to reduce the monthly fee to $57 for all Seniors. But no, you want more for a select group that you happen to be a member of. Given your apparent personal animosity toward the Y, I would hazard to guess that you would be the first to be screaming “unfair” if you happened to be outside the group.

      Your falsehoods, misdirections and manipulations have been exposed for what they are yet now more misdirection to take out years of pent up frustrations on the Y. Sad. I wish I could go into the past and remove the reasons for your past grievances but I can’t. I’m sorry.

      • The only select group that has been singled out for special treatment is the Senior residents of the local population who are not considered a good business model. Seniors are not part of the Y’s community because they are a bad business model. No falsehoods, no misdirections, no manipulations. Straightforward wording and directly from the Y. It is shameful on the part of the Y which has had many opportunities to resolve this situation, yet chose not to make an effort to make senior residents welcome or participate in this discussion.

        • Jerry MacDaid

          There you go again with misdirections and falsehoods, David.

          Seriously? Senior residents are not welcome? Must be why the Y discounts Senior memberships – to make them go away. Or why the Y runs dedicated Senior programs – so no one will come. Or why you will see Seniors at the Y at all times of the day – because they feel unwelcome. Or why at certain times of the day it appears 70% of the folks in the place are Seniors – because of the big “Seniors unwelcome” sign. Have you even been there recently?

          I’m not saying the programs for Seniors (or anyone else for that matter) can’t be made better – they probably can. But your original crusade of providing Silver Sneakers members with a special deal doesn’t really do much for the Senior population in general does it? Or have you finally moved on from that? Or obfuscating the issue again, looking for a Trojan Horse to sneak in your special deal?

  31. This thread has run its course. There are no new points to be made. This discussion is closed.