Speak Up: Readers continue weighing in on state retiree benefit panel


The Retiree Healthcare Benefits Advisory Subcommittee, tasked with providing recommendations on proposals for retired state workers’ coverage, met Aug. 24 and considered several motions opposed by committee members who are part of the governor’s administration.

A motion to remove Medicare Advantage from consideration was presented by committee vice chair Rep. Paul Baumbach, D-Newark, and opposed by Department of Finance Secretary Rick Geisenberger, who noted that the subcommittee’s job is to evaluate retiree health care options in a fiscally sustainable way. Claire DeMatteis, committee co-chair and secretary of the Delaware Department of Human Resources, said the motion altered the committee’s authority that is limited by state law. The motion that Medicare Advantage be taken off the table was approved. Another motion was passed recommending the state follow its previous format of a three-year contract with two optional one-year extensions.

The subcommittee meets again Sept. 28, and its report is due to Gov. John Carney and the legislature by Oct. 1.

How much say should state workers have over what the state offers them in retirement benefits? What is currently missing from the equation that should be considered?

  • This says that the next Retiree Healthcare Benefits Advisory Subcommittee meeting will be Sept. 28, but according to both the public meetings calendar and the subcommittee chair, it’s Sept. 8. There is a meeting on the 28th, but there’s one in-between. — Joan DelFattore

Editor’s note: The Retiree Healthcare Benefits Advisory Subcommittee will meet Sept. 8 at 1 p.m. to continue discussions on pensioner coverage in Delaware.

  • I believe that this question misses the point. As a retired University of Delaware faculty member, I had no input into what the state offered as its retirement benefit. I accepted what was offered and promised to me when I retired in 2012. I just expect that the state abides by the commitments that it has made. — Audrey Noble
  • The state should fulfill its end of the contract it made with its workers instead of trying to pull a bait-and-switch. — Jennifer MacDonald
  • I was at the University of Delaware for over 40 years, and I’m completely satisfied with my current insurance. About two weeks ago, I had an unexpected major surgery. My medical team saved my life. If I had Medicare Advantage and having to get approvals for the surgery and approved doctors, I hate to think what would have transpired. I, too, think that Medicare Advantage is yet another way for an insurance company to make money and forces those of us in retirement to jump through hoops in order to get the care we need and deserve. — Christine Straight Robert Straight
  • The plan and benefits we retired under should not be changed after the fact, when we need them most. They’re what we worked for when we could have had higher salaries elsewhere. We should have every right to say we want to keep our Medicfill policy. What’s been missing is the state properly funding it. The benefits should be funded in the budget each year. You can read numerous articles every day about the issues with Medicare Advantage. — Donna Walton
  • It really seems pretty simple. The retirement plan and benefits that were in place when we retired should not be subject to retroactive changes. — John B. Bishop
  • One of the major attractions about working for the state has always been their excellent retirement health care benefits, and a change to any Advantage plan would limit their coverage. Persons with serious chronic conditions could risk timely interventions for optimal health care. And, more importantly, if they live out of state, they face the risk of being denied appropriate care due to lack of access to approved out-of-state providers. In some cases, adjacent states are advertising that they will no longer accept Delaware insurance plans if you switch to an Advantage plan. — Betty Paulanka
  • Retirees and current employees have every right to have their opinions heard. Retirees worked for the agreed-to plan as a part of their salary benefits. Changing them after the fact is wrong. In my opinion, the state should have handled the funds/plans better, and if they no longer have the funds for what they promised, they need to figure out how to fix it, while not taking away from the retirees who held up their end of the deal. As for current employees, they, too, should have a say because they have made the choice to work for the state, knowing that their pension is a part of their salary they agreed to when accepting their job. If the state wants to change the plan, then they need to set a date that is effective for new hires going forward. — Garon and Stacie Mears Warner
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