Commissioners make changes for Medicare eligible retirees

Published 10:47 am Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Last week, retirees left Commissioners Court understanding their health insurance benefits were safe for one more year until the subject appeared on the court’s Monday agenda again.
With a crowd larger than the courtroom could hold, people spilled over into the hallway straining to hear the fate of the retirees health insurance.
In a 3-2 vote, Medicare eligible retirees will now have the Sliver Plan instead of the Blue Cross Blue Shield plan.
Orange County Judge Stephen Brint Carlton said the court was supplied with more information since the previous week such as the number of retirees currently using Tier 4 medications.
“All we know about the individual is that in the last 12 months, one person was using Tier 4 drugs,” Carlton said. “We do not know who it is or if they are still on the drug.”
Carlton also said that in this particular situation, the manufacturer offers assistance for individuals who cannot afford the medication.
One area of concern in the supplemental plan was the prescription plan requiring those on Tier 4 medications to have $4,700 out of pocket prior to dropping down to five-percent cost.
Texas Association of Counties also supplied information concerning age pre-65 retirees concerning at least three individuals had previously taken Tier 4 medications in the previous 12 months but zero were currently using Tier 4 medications.
“This shows us that Tier 4 is not a forever drug,” Carlton said.
Retired Judge Pat Clark questioned the legality of the vote on Monday.
“Someone is misleading someone. If you say something you should stick to it,” Clark said. “TAC told us the deadline was June 8. You are putting the screws to the retirees. We thought we had another year, not a week.”
Clark asked repeatedly if the court was going to rescind the vote from the previous week. Commissioner Precinct Three John Banken said he was concerned for the people paying double, triple for medication.
“Are we going to run them off the cliff and let them go,” Banken asked.
“There is a bucket of money to retire on,” Commissioner Precinct One David Dubose said. “I hate being put on the spot. I would rather we stick with the motion last week.”
How they voted:
Commissioner Precinct One David Dubose – No
Commissioner Precinct Two Barry Burton – Yes
County Judge Stephen Brint Carlton – Yes
Commissioner Precinct Three John Banken – No
Commissioner Precinct Four Jody Crump – Yes