Speak Up: What should the state retiree benefit panel recommend to the governor?


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?

  • State employees should have their voices heard. Especially since the state wants to put people on Medicare Advantage, forcing older people to jump through hurdles to get care. Medicare Advantage is a joke. — Cindy Conley Westhoff
  • I wish Medicare Advantage were only a joke. It’s a serious and dangerous cutback in retiree health benefits and one that is designed to destroy original Medicare for everyone, not just state retirees. — Tery Griffin C.
  • Are the lawmakers getting the same health care that we state workers/retirees are being asked to accept? My husband’s life is at stake, and changing his health care options would negatively affect his options for care, as well as limit our access, quality and cost. — Salina Marie
  • Yes, lawmakers have the same retirement health care. — John Kowalko
  • Do you make a comparable salary to a retired educator? Is your share of the premium the same as our share? — Salina Marie
  • As a longtime University of Delaware employee and then retiree, I have felt very fortunate that the benefits I paid for and were promised have provided such welcome support as I have aged and increasingly needed reliable health benefits. To learn now that those promised benefits might be compromised by actions at the state level is both worrisome and, frankly, infuriating. I regarded the promises made to me and to so many others as a form of binding contract, and I think a breach of that contract might be legally actionable. It certainly would be unethical. I hope the subcommittee will carefully consider all of the human and other implications of its contemplated action and decide to do the decent thing and abandon it. — Jerry Beasley
  • Keep their promise and continue our Medicfill! — Ross Karen
  • I am retired from the University of Delaware and currently enrolled in the Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Delaware Special Medicfill Medicare Supplement Plan with Part D prescription coverage through SilverScript. That benefit was promised to me by the state when I retired in 2005 and has been delivered to me since then. You are requesting answers to two questions: “How much say should state workers have over what the state offers them in retirement benefits?” and “What is currently missing from the question that should be considered?” The following response is my proposed answer to those questions. The state of Delaware is considering replacing the above-said plan with another that results in a combination of decreased benefits to me and increased cost to me. I view those changes to be in bad faith by the state because they fail to honor the original promise the state made to me when I retired. — Carter Broach
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