Lititz Rec to end ‘Silver’ programs

By on November 6, 2019

Lititz recCenter’s decision to discontinue its Silver Sneakers and Silver & Fit programs have angered many senior members who relied on the complimentary membership covered through various insurance companies including Medicare.

“After a great deal of study and financial analysis, effective Jan. 1, 2020, the Lititz recCenter will no longer participate in the Silver Sneakers or Silver & Fit programs,” said Karen Mailen, executive director of the Lititz recCenter.

The program provides qualified policyholders with a free membership to several gyms and fitness locations. Their insurance company then pays the facility a reimbursement rate. Not every insurance company offers this program, but many do.

Members such as Dorinda Cochran of Lititz received a letter dated Oct. 21 that detailed the Silver Sneakers discontinuation.

Cochran, who used the program since retiring from her full time job in 2016, said she doesn’t plan to join out of pocket.

“I still work part-time to help live comfortably and cannot afford to pay over $400 for the use of the facilities,” she said.

Mailen said the programs are not a part of member’s health service provider, but are third-party for-profit businesses working with those providers to provide the benefit of gym membership.

“Simply put, our members pay their health insurance premiums, then Silver Sneakers and Silver & Fit take a cut and pay the recCenter a discounted membership fee,” she said. “The Lititz recCenter feels we can no longer subsidize that discount. Other gyms, YMCAs and rec centers are proceeding in the same direction.”

The cut is not unique to Lititz. Tennessee residents will also see the Silver Sneakers program halted at YMCAs statewide effective Jan. 1, 2020.

Since the news was announced, no fewer than ten affected residents have voiced concerns via letters to the editor, emails, and phone calls to the Lititz Record Express.

Mailen said Lititz recCenter understands the community’s disappointment and the decision to end the program wasn’t an easy one that took many months of analysis and consideration. In the end, reimbursement to the club was insufficient to cover the cost of the membership.

“It is not fair to have the full fee-paying members continue to subsidize this cost,” she said. “Without this change, the deficiency will continue to grow. By 2030, the ‘baby-boomers’ will reachMedicare age, and the growth of the 65+ US population will double vs 2010.”

John Peffer of Lititz has taken advantage of the program since retiring three years ago. Before that, he was a member through a discount his employer offered.

“My concern is that many senior citizens will no longer be able to use the center for their physical and mental health,” Peffer said. “I realize there is financial aid available, but many seniors will be embarrassed to apply. I can afford the monthly charges but I know many others that the charges will cause them to stop using the rec,” he added. “My leaving would be a protest to this policy. Right now I am thinking of leaving.”

Lititz recCenter

“I will go somewhere Silver Sneakers is still accepted as long as I am still able,” Cochran added. “Exercise is very important to keeping the old body loose and flexible and healthy.”

“We’ve already seen a few people from Lititz come over to Ephrata because of this change,” said Jean Wentz, membership program and marketing director of the Ephrata Recreation Center.

Effective Jan. 1, a new, Senior Plus membership option will be offered by the Lititz recCenter which will be available in 3-month, 6-month, or 1-year increments. For a resident of Lititz, the monthly fee (for ages 65 and up) will be $35 per month. For non-residents, that fee will be $39.50. A resident senior rate (for ages 60-65) will be $43; and $49.75 for non-residents. For adults ages 19 to 59, the monthly fee will be $54.50 for a resident. A non-resident adult will be $65.25 per month.

“We form friendships in our classes, and we’ll have to disperse elsewhere if we have to pay the $35 per month,” said Victoria Bowman of Lititz, who has used the program since 2013, even leaving another local gym that year just to take advantage of Silver Sneakers at the Lititz rec.

“Surely another option could have been offered that have helped cover the cost of operation,” she said. “Maybe keeping Silver Sneakers and charging a small monthly fee to make up the difference.”

For transitioning members, the Lititz recCenter has also pledged to waive the standard joiner fee of $65 through June 30 of next year.

Membership services staff will assist members in moving into another membership category early next year. Mailen also explained that each year, the rec invests in a Community Partnership Fund to ensure that financial assistance can be provided for programs and memberships for community members with limited finances.

Financial assistance is also available for those who qualify. Forms may be downloaded from the facility’s website or picked up at the front desk of the rec center.

Cory Van Brookhoven is a staff writer for the Lititz Record Express. He welcomes your comments at cvanbrookhoven@lnpnews.com or 717-721-4423. 

3 Comments

  1. Bob

    November 6, 2019 at 12:05 pm

    Go to Planet fitness on Granite Run Dr in Manheim Township. save yourself 25 to 45 bucks a month.

  2. DONALD J PAWLOWSKI

    November 10, 2019 at 11:38 am

    It makes one wonder, why can’t the Lititz recCenter manage with the SilverSneakers program and all the other regional recreation facilities can?

  3. Kathy Bomgardner

    November 10, 2019 at 6:49 pm

    Could you explain just who is going to use the facility starting in January…seniors use the facility during the day while children and grown ups are at school and work…waste of good space…I always respected your facility now I think you will suffer from kicking the Seniors out. Good luck making ends meet

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