Maryland State Retirees Fight To Keep Prescription Drug Benefits - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Maryland State Retirees Fight To Keep Prescription Drug Benefits In Lawsuit Against State

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(Photo: CBS) (Photo: CBS)

MARYLAND - Last summer Maryland state retirees were informed that their prescription drug benefits were in jeopardy, but now some are fighting back to keep their coverage. 

Ken Fitch, a Baltimore retiree, was prompted to take legal action against the state after he received a letter saying he would no longer have his benefits in January 2019.  Once Fitch discovered his insulin prescriptions would jump from hundreds to thousands of dollars per year, he hired a lawyer.

"Mine alone would go over 11 grand, close to 12 a year. Today with the state coverage I'm paying $800 a year total for all of my medications," Fitch said. 

Fitch hired attorney Deborah Hill to assist him in the legal process.  Fitch and Hill were granted an injunction from a federal judge in October 2018 that halted any action until a judge could hear the lawsuit. The two are now gathering plaintiffs to file for class action certification later this month. 

Fitch and Hill held a meeting on Monday in Easton to meet with state retirees to inform them of their lawsuit and update them on the benefits status.

Valerie Neal, a Maryland Auto Insurance Fund retiree, says it's unfair to take these benefits away from people that worked hard for them. 

"To tell us out of the clear blue sky that we no longer have this? It's ludicrous," Neal said. 

Fitch is worried that without these benefits, state retirees will have to choose prioritize their prescriptions. 

"I know for a fact some of these people will pick a roof over there head and food before they take their medications. They'll push that aside. And if you don't take your medications you know what the alternative is and that's the sad part," Fitch said. 

In a statement to WBOC, Gov. Larry Hogan's Office said:

"Ongoing legal action currently prevents any changes to retiree prescription benefits, and the governor is committed to working with the legislature to devise a permanent solution to ensure our state retirees have access to affordable health care."

Hill says that this lawsuit is the only way to secure these drug benefits for state retirees forever.  While there is also legislation being considered in the General Assembly session to repeal the state's decision.

Hill says it normally takes between two and five years for a judge to hear the case once the class action is filed in Maryland. 

 

 

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