Retired Maryland State Employees Frustrated with Discontinued Me - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Retired Maryland State Employees Frustrated with Discontinued Medicare Benefit

Posted: May 18, 2018 10:51 PM Updated:
(Photo: CBS) (Photo: CBS)

MARYLAND - Those who've retired from jobs with the state of Maryland have recently learned that starting on January 1, 2019 they will no longer get prescription drug coverage with their state health plan. 

In Salisbury, MAC Inc. hosted an informational session to answer questions from a group of concerned seniors.  Many of which were frustrated and fearful of what this could mean for them.  The new change will now require those Medicare-eligible state retirees to enroll in a Part D coverage plan on their own.  And with lots of options to choose from, many are skeptical about the complicated rates. 

"There's a huge sense of panic, they just don't know what to do," State Health Insurance Program Counselor at MAC Michelle Parker said. "There's definitely some frustration going on - I can totally understand how they feel. You plan your retirement accordingly and when something is taken away or something changes it can be devastating to folks."

The Maryland Department of Budget and Management provided WBOC with this statement about the decision.

"This coverage is ending due to actions taken by the prior administration and the Maryland General Assembly back in 2011, which set July 1, 2019 as the end date for this coverage. During the 2018 legislative session, the current General Assembly members voted to accelerate this date even further to January 1, 2019.  Both the Hogan Administration and the Department of Budget and Management objected to this change but the law was changed in spite of those objections. Our goal is now to help with a smoother transition to Medicare Part D coverage," Director of Communications Eric Shirk said. 

Retired Salisbury University Professor Ronald Dotterer says he thinks the change is unacceptable because those affected were not able to provide input before the decision was made. 

"We were employees of the state of Maryland and they should have informed us on all of these things," Dotterer said. 

Gaylon Polin says the discontinued benefit causes her to fear for what could be taken away in the future.

"We've always been promised these things, they've been strongly implied promises that we would have these benefits along with our pension. Now many people are getting concerned, well they're taking the drug perscription away, when are they going to come for the health insurance? And are they coming after our pensions?" Polin said. 

As of right now, Parker says there isn't much that the affected retirees can do, other than educate themselves on the different coverage plans.  Official rates will be announced in October before open enrollment begins.  Parker says the most important thing to do is make sure a plan is chosen before December 31, 2018. MAC Inc. is also offering informational sessions and DIY courses over the next few months to prepare the seniors affected.  

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