For Immediate Release: March 14th, 2014
Are State Retiree Benefits Under Fire?
Senator Wielechowski Urges Parnell Administration to Uphold the Constitution and Reconsider its New Retiree Health Plan
JUNEAU – Concern is mounting among retirees that the Parnell Administration is poised to reduce constitutionally-protected health benefits they were promised as state and local employees.
The Administration recently came out with a revised retiree health plan. A public comment period on the draft plan was set to close on February 28 but has been extended to April 30 in response to public concerns.
The plan provides health coverage to 67,000 Alaska retirees and their families.
“The Alaska Constitution prohibits any diminishment or impairment of retiree benefits,” said Senator Wielechowski, who recently urged the Parnell Administration to review and reconsider the draft plan.
“These benefits provide the foundation for a happy and healthy retirement,” Wielechowski added. “They are part of the agreement struck with employees when they were hired. Changing the terms now of those agreements violates the Constitution and commitments made to many, many Alaskans.”
Recently the Retired Public Employees of Alaska contracted with a health care expert to review the proposed plan. The contractor, a former benefits manager with the state and representative of AETNA, identified about 75 potential reductions and 10 enhancements of benefits in the plan.
To view an analysis of the changes, click here:
Gary Miller, the Southeast Alaska chair of the RPEA, said his group has been working with the Administration for several months to address retiree concerns.
“Many retirees are worried their benefits are being cut,” Miller said. “The state must honor its commitment to Alaskans who devoted their lives to bettering their communities and Alaska as a whole.”
Wielechowski noted that the Administration has said its intent is not to reduce benefits. “If that’s the case, they need to clarify the plan because it has certainly created lot of angst.”
He said he looks forward to seeing the Administration’s response to the specific issues raised by the RPEA contractor.
To view Senator Wielechowski’s letter to the Department of Administration, click here:
For more information, contact Senator Wielechowski at (907) 465-6881.