The Advocate’s coverage of the ongoing struggle between the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board and its retirees over health care is myopic at best. By persisting in reporting this struggle as a simple School Board choice regarding insurance coverage, The Advocate fails to see the handwriting on the wall for baby boomers coming to retirement age.
The School Board’s fundamental problem is that it has more retired employees in its insurance plan than active employees. Unsurprisingly, the retirees have higher medical expenses, which puts a bind on board finances. The board’s solution is to push those retirees who are Medicare eligible out of the group insurance plan offered to active and non-Medicare retirees. In its place, the board is offering Medicare supplement plans that may or may not provide access to the retiree’s choice of physician, or a level of care comparable to their current coverage.
What The Advocate has not adequately reported is that over the last several years the EBRPSB has raided the surplus in its health-care fund to pay its portion of recurring premiums. Also underreported is the fact that part of the problem facing the board was created in part when the Legislature created breakaway school districts and did not provide for those districts to take the liability for a portion of retirees.
Though largely unacknowledged by The Advocate, there is a group of retirees actively opposing the School Board’s effort to disenfranchise them. These retirees recognize the issue is about more than the School Board, even if The Advocate does not.
The problem of retiree-heavy health-care plans is not exclusive to the School Board. The problem of health-care funds being raided by governing bodies is not unique to the School Board. Finally, as my dad can attest, the solution of shoving retirees out of employer’s group insurance is not limited to the School Board.
So pay attention folks. Whether you were a civil servant or corporate drone, the health-care benefits they are coming after may well be your own.
H. Kay Rothkamm
small business owner