First, I would like to thank The Advocate and staff reporter Charles Lussier for accurate reporting on the meetings held to discuss this issue. I am a retired teacher from the East Baton Rouge Parish school system with 30 years of service.
For the following reasons, I oppose the proposed change in retiree health insurance:
1) The proposed change is a breach of the commitment made by the school system to Medicare-eligible retires. Since I retired, the school system has provided health benefits to me as promised during my employment.
I counted on receiving this benefit as well as the monthly retirement benefits I receive from the state. I spent my professional life teaching children rather than seeking more-lucrative employment.
Mercer Human Resources Consulting, which presented the proposed change, has admitted in its own documents that the change seeks to lower the insurance cost for active teachers and non-Medicare retirees by $8.7 million.
This carve-out of Medicare-eligible retires under the proposal is both unfair and inequitable. What’s the distinction between the Medicare eligible retirees and non-Medicare retirees which justifies different treatment under this proposal? Just because my deceased husband worked and paid into Social Security is not a fair basis to penalize me as a Medicare-eligible retires. What is fair about reducing the health benefits for us in order to help the non-Medicare retirees and active teachers? What is wrong with having all active employees and all retirees sharing the expense?
2) Please do not underestimate the difficulties we’ll face if the change is forced on us. Even Mercer admits that the change will cause problems.
I am 83 years of age. I have my doctors and prescription plan in place. I have worked for my retirement and should not face this kind of aggravation and change in benefits.
Did the school system contact the Medicare eligible retirees to ask if the Medicare-eligible retires were willing to pay more to keep the current supplemental health insurance? No!
3) Will the school system increase the proposed $3,281 a year contribution if costs increase in the future for the amount of the School Board contribution for Medicare-eligible retires? If not, why not and why should they be solely responsible for this added expense?
4) How much is Mercer charging for its work on the proposal?
I urge the School Board board to keep rejecting this proposal. All employees, active and retired should continue to share the health care expenses. This is the fair way!
I’m thankful to be an American! God bless America!