Union wants lawmakers to revisit move of prescription drug plan to Medicare

A union that represents some of the state’s retirees is asking Gov. Larry Hogan and other lawmakers to reconsider moving the retiree’s prescription drug plan to the Medicare Part D program next year.

Members of the Maryland Classified Employees Association held a rally at their Woodlawn headquarters Wednesday requesting lawmakers call a special session to look at the issue. Union leadership said the switch is going to be cost-prohibitive for many retirees living on fixed incomes.

“I think they can bring it back to the table to re-evaluate what has been done,” union president Linda Day said. “I am a person that believes nothing is etched in stone except your tombstone. I just feel we need to revisit.”

The move to the federal prescription drug plan, which will take place Jan. 1, is part of the state pension reform passed in 2011. It created a stir among retirees after they received letters earlier this year saying the change was imminent.

In an effort to calm the uproar, Gov. Larry Hogan and General Assembly leadership announced a bipartisan one-year transition program last week in which the state will reimburse all out-of-pocket drug costs exceeding $1,500.

They say they will revisit the issue during the next legislative session.

“We expect that this matter — which is the result of legislation passed under the previous administration — will be discussed during the next legislative session, and our administration will work with the presiding officers on possible legislation to provide additional relief,” Hogan spokeswoman Amelia Chasse said in an email.

Last week’s announcement was meant to be a short-term fix until the next legislative session, said Alexandra Hughes, chief of staff to House Speaker Michael E. Busch.

The Maryland Classified Employees Association has 1,500 active members and 1,800 members who are retirees.

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