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Thread: Article 17 Accept Law re: Transfer of Retirees to Meidicare Extension Plan

  1. #1
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    Apr 2006
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    Default Article 17 Accept Law re: Transfer of Retirees to Meidicare Extension Plan

    The Wayland Police Officers' Union, and I am fairly certain every other union representing town employees, will be asking residents at Town Meeting to VOTE NO on ARTICLE 17 Accept Law Re: Transfer of Retirees To Medicare Extension Plan.

    The Wayland Police Officers' Union opposed the acceptance of this law when it came up for a vote as Article 7 of the Special Town Meeting in May of 2004. It is the position of our members that the adoption of this law by the Town significantly impacts the health care costs and options of retirees and future retirees. We feel that the Town of Wayland should be bargaining the impact of this change with our union prior to submitting this article for adoption by the town.

    The adoption of this law will force retirees to enroll in Medicare if they are eligible. The retirees will be faced with additional paperwork to obtain reimbursement through supplemental insurance plans and may have to change doctors as well. Most of the retirees cannot speak out against this article as they do not live in Wayland and many town employees cannot afford to live in Wayland so their voices cannot be heard on this issue either. Potential employees choose where to accept employment based on salary and benefits packages, and now the town is trying to change the benefits of it's employees and retirees without having to negotiate that change and therefore without any compensation. We understand that health care costs are escalating, we pay approximately 30% of the premium which is as much as 20% more than town employees in our neighboring communities. We also know that the town is struggling financially as a result of less aid from the state, increased pension costs, and rising health care costs. However, we urge residents to send a message to the Board of Selectmen and the Finance Committee that they do not wish to balance the budget on the backs of the town's retirees and it's employees.

    Vote "NO" on Article 17

    Jim Forti,
    Secretary-Treasurer
    Wayland Police Officers' Union

  2. #2
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    Apr 2006
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    Default Health Insurance Coverage for Retirees - Article #17

    I must agree with Jim's opinion concerning this Town Meeting Article. If passed, the outcome will negatively affect all of those who have worked for the Town of Wayland and provided many years of dedicated service, often above and beyond the scope of their duties, during their years of employment.

    Tom Turner

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    I was at a meeting where Fin Com presented the facts on this issue and they said it would cost the end user less in almost all cases and provide the same or better coverage while saving the town money. It seems like a win win. If this is not the case could someone please clarify so that we can make an educated vote.

  4. #4
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    Nov 2005
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    Default Retiree Health Care [Vote Yes for Article 17]

    The town pays more than $1,250,000 per year for retiree health care almost 30% of the Town's health care expense) and the number is going to continue to grow as more people go into the plan (the plan has had more than 100 additional members just in the past 3 years) and as more people retire. In addition to the $1,250,000, the town pays over $350k to the federal government to participate in medicare. Town employees collectively pay a comparable amount to the government. Retired town employees are not required to go onto medicare when they are eligible. Instead, they can stay on the Town's insurance. So, we are paying into a federal government system that we are not taking full advantage of and paying more for health insurance that we need to.

    This article is an important step towards finding ways the town can save money and retain the levels of services town residents want. Under proposition 2 1/2, tax revenues can only grow by 2 1/2 % each year without the majority approval of registered voters voting to "override" proposition 2 1/2. The 2 1/2 growth level has been only enough to cover increased retirement, health care and utilities costs in recent years. The primary budgeted expense in town is employee cost (about 70% of the budget) So, without finding other ways to reduce costs, taxes will have to go up or our employee base will have to hemorrhage each year. Applicable definition of hemorraage: to lose (something valuable) rapidly and in quantity each year. this will have a material impact on our services.

    The insurance the retiree receives from the Town, vs. medicare are comparable so there is no reason not to support this article. The article was unanimously agreed to by the Finance Committee who views it as one of five key budget stability initiatives they advocate. Betsy Connolly

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
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    Hi Jim,

    This is an issue I would like to understand better. Other than the issues you raise regarding doctor selection and paperwork, do you believe this change would actually reduce the level or quality of services or increase their costs?

    Nobody wants to short-change the town employees, and yet we as a town need to find a way to control health care costs. If it saves us a lot of money (and potentially a lot of town jobs down the line), and is only a minor inconvenience to employees, that seems like a good trade-off.

    As I understand it, the Town can only make the change if the plans are "actuarially equivalent", so I assume the plans can't really be worse.

    Kim

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Posts
    2

    Default Answers to your questions and further comments

    Last night I attended the presentation by the Town regarding Article 17: Transfer of Retirees to Medicare Extension Plan. John Senchyshyn, Fred Turkington, and Donna Lemoyne spoke for the Town. There were about a dozen retirees present including retired members of the police and fire departments, custodians and other town employees including retired teachers. The presentation lasted about 45 minutes and several questions were asked and answered as best they could. A majority of the retirees seem confused by the prospect of this change and are unsure what the impact will be on them. As each person has their own individual set of circumstances they will only be able to determine the savings or cost of this proposed change after contacting Social Security to determine if they qualify or not, and then contacting Donna Lemoyne to learn what the differences are between plans so that they can make an intelligent choice. If the Article passes at Town Meeting they will have to do all of this choosing of plans starting January 1st 2007 through March 31st, 2007. If they fail to do this they will loose all health care benefits. The change will apply to all employees retired or not. To explain it in a nut shell, if the Article passes at Town Meeting, when you or your spouse turns 65 you must apply for Medicare Benefits. You will qualify if you were hired after March 31, 1986, or if either of you has worked a total of 40 quarters paying into the social security system (includes military time). At that point you will purchase Medicare Plan B and choose a Supplemental Insurance Plan to cover medical expenses not covered under Medicare Plan B, and if one of you is under 65 you will still purchase the Active Employee health plan available for that spouse. There were a number of examples to look at showing some with savings and some costing more per month. There was concern expressed that BCBS MEDEX was not shown as an example for those in attendance and this is curious since 99 of 158 retirees who purchase supplemental insurance now have BCBS MEDEX. The "comparable coverage" issue is unclear as the Town stated that an independent study was conducted and that the coverage is comparable within 10%. Which way, less or more? Again the concern that the WPOU expresses here is that this is something that the Town should be bargaining with the employee unions over. Unfortunately, the Town seems to have taken the position that they can just take away a benefit without negotiating the impact of this change. The WPOU filed a Prohibited Practice against the Town 2 years ago for this reason. Yet in almost two years of bargaining we have not been asked to bargain this change even though we have been without a contract since June 30, 2004 because the WPOU opposes changes proposed around health care coverage for its members.

    I actually have had retirees tell me that they project their costs to be higher, not lower, but as I said before, most have no voice at town meeting so no-one will hear them tell their side. Put yourself in the place of a senior citizen and think what this feels like to them. Better still, would you want to put your parents through this? And for what? The projected savings if this article passes can't be very much considering that the town has to pay the penalties for all the retirees who didn't apply for Medicare when they turned 65. Funny the Town hasn't mentioned that fact.

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