No excuse for treating state retirees so badly

Attorneys Deborah Hill and Breon Johnson need to be applauded for representing a small handful of Maryland state retirees suing Maryland for the terms of the state pension reform bill of 2011 which strips the prescription medication insurance plan from retirees forcing them to use Medicare instead which is a vastly inferior drug coverage (“Maryland extends drug coverage after judge rules state retirees don’t have to switch plans,” Oct. 11). Gov. Martin O'Malley quietly passed this bill seven years ago, tacking on an enactment date well beyond his political life in Maryland. It was not even posted in the 2011 “Retiree News,” but it takes effect Jan. 1, 2019.

Now that the letters have gone out to retirees and to counter the shock, the state set aside $33 million to reimburse, for the first year, retirees for out-of-pocket drug costs exceeding $1,500, the cap under the current state prescription plan. Gov. Larry Hogan said, “I am glad that our administration was able to work with legislative leadership to provide this relief for state retirees who will be affected by this change.”

But what he offers is only one year of temporary relief for those whose prescriptions exceed $1,500. What happens after that first year? For those of us who are moderate prescription drug users, that is no help whatsoever. How does that even remotely spell relief?

Hopefully, Ms. Hill and Mr. Johnson will succeed in making this a class action suit. It is a well-known fact that the state is not an employer that will make you rich. You take a job with the state for the promise of a great benefits package you take with you into retirement. But now retirees, who dedicated their younger years to working for the state, are moving into advanced age requiring prescription drugs more than ever only to find out that in 2011 the government pulled the plug on their prescription plan to save money.

Maryland is the richest state in the U.S. Governor Hogan brags that we “had the best year for business in Maryland in 15 years and the best year for job growth in a decade.” So why are the politicians in Maryland intent on following through with this cruel surprise for seniors who put their working life's blood into state employment and are now retired? It is embarrassingly shameful, especially in an election year.

Georgia Corso, Baltimore

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