County asking more questions concerning retiree health benefits

Published 5:46 pm Friday, May 29, 2015

Texas Association of Counties (TAC) representative answered more questions for the Orange County Commissioners Court Tuesday morning during a workshop addressing a retiree’s supplemental insurance plan.
The court was informed all retirees would have to switch to the plan or none.
County Judge Stephen Brint Carlton asked how many counties were using the Silver Plan, a supplemental plan under consideration.
The TAC representative said 88 counties in Texas were offering it to their retirees. The representative also said several counties offer the plan but do not pay anything towards it.
One area of concern in the plan is the prescription plan requiring those on Tier Four medications to have $4,700 out of pocket prior to dropping down to five-percent cost.
Commissioner Pct. 3 John Banken question if TAC offered a policy to cover Tier Four medications.
“We have retirees now that with this plan, it would take every penny they have to pay for their medicine,” Banken said. “This would cause some retirees to become destitute. I know some do not care, but I do. These people gave their lives to work at this county. I have huge problems with that.”
An unidentified person in the audience said it would take two months of paychecks to pay for one month of medicine.
Commissioner Pct. 1 David Dubose said the situation is a balancing act.
“It will save some a whole lot of money,” Dubose said. “For others the cost is too much. Someone will get burned.”
Dubose said a previous court promised he retirees the benefits they currently have through the county.
“I could not sleep  at night taking that away from them [retirees],” Dubose said.
Dubose suggested a policy change allowing the current retirees to remain with the current plan and new employees would have the new plan.
The TAC representative said the retirees could be grandfathered in on the current active plan with future retirees required to use the Silver Plan.
County Judge Carlton said the deadline for a decision is June 8, 2015 for the plan/policy to go into effect October of this year.
The Silver Plan would create a $223,000 savings for the county.