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Accountabilty Commission Discusses State Retiree Healthcare
Lawmakers continue to work to trim the cost of state retirees. Today, the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (COGFA) met to discuss major changes in retiree healthcare.
The entire process is incredibly complicated. In today's hearing, several lawmakers made it clear they needed more information, and in plain English, so they could understand it.
Currently, state retirees have several choices in health insurance. All are paid for by the state. But the idea is to push those retirees into Medicare, with the state paying for Plan B options, including Medicare Advantage or Medi-Gap plans.
Some have estimated the changes could save the state as much as $100 million per year.
"It appears from the questions today, though I think we need a lot more detail, that there will be significant savings for the taxpayers," Sen. Chapin Rose (R - Champaign) said. "But local folks will still be able to retain their doctors, you know, go to their local provider that they're comfortable with, the person they've had for a number of years, and save some money for the taxpayers in the process."
So where do we go from here? That's complicated, too. The governor's office has negotiated a new deal with AFSCME, but Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan hasn't signed off on it yet. COGFA does have the final say on the choices that are made as far as which plans are offered.
The deadline to have everything settled is January 1. Rose said he thinks that time frame is a bit overzealous.
The proposed changes would affect about 87,000 retired state workers, but the idea is to keep the new healthcare program nearly identical in benefits to the current plans.
Retirees would be responsible for payments totaling about 1 percent of their income in the first year, with an increase to 2 percent in the second.