NewsLt. Governor Hall-Long Proposes Comprehensive Plan for State Retiree Healthcare

Lt. Governor Hall-Long Proposes Comprehensive Plan for State Retiree Healthcare

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Dover, Del. – In a significant development on Monday, Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long presented a detailed roadmap aimed at safeguarding healthcare benefits for state retirees and promoting fiscal stability. This initiative was unveiled during a joint hearing of the House and Senate Health Committees.

During the session with the House Health and Human Development Committee and Senate Health and Social Services Committee, Lt. Governor Hall-Long, who chairs the Retiree Healthcare Benefits Advisory Subcommittee, shared key findings and recommendations from the subcommittee’s inaugural report. The report delves into the analysis of retiree healthcare benefits and strategies for long-term funding sustainability.

Established in 2023 by the General Assembly, the subcommittee was formed in response to mounting concerns regarding retiree healthcare benefits for current and retired state workers, coupled with the escalating unfunded liability for these benefits. Serving as vice-chairs are Sen. Bryan Townsend and Rep. Paul Baumbach.

Lt. Governor Hall-Long emphasized the inclusivity of the subcommittee’s approach, involving a diverse range of stakeholders, including members of the General Assembly, retirees, union leaders, and cabinet members. The process incorporated public input at every stage, utilizing a dedicated website to keep residents informed and gathering public testimony.

“The retiree subcommittee brought a wide variety of stakeholders to the table, including members of the General Assembly, retirees, union leaders, and cabinet members. We established an unprecedented public process, creating a website to better inform residents, and taking public testimony at every step to make sure everyone was heard,” said Lt. Governor Hall-Long.

The report, published in December 2023, addresses critical aspects of retiree healthcare, including strategies to tackle the Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB) Fund liability and proposed changes to the state’s process for selecting retiree healthcare plans. The current estimated liability for retiree healthcare benefits is $8.9 billion, with $8.4 billion currently unfunded.

Key recommendations from the subcommittee include avoiding consideration of a Medicare Advantage plan, continued contributions to the OPEB fund, and incremental increases in OPEB pre-funding. The report also advocates for maintaining Special Medicfill/Rx benefits for certain retirees and limiting changes to plan design for workers hired after January 1, 2025.

The subcommittee’s meticulous process involved 20 meetings over nine months, collecting 10 hours of public testimony. Lt. Governor Hall-Long expressed a sense of urgency, stating, “We have a window of opportunity to act, and it requires everyone to take bold steps now to meet this moment and protect and preserve the best healthcare not only for our retirees but for future generations.”

The proposed roadmap will now be considered by the State Employee Benefits Committee and the General Assembly, with the hope of implementing measures that prioritize the well-being of current and future retirees in the state.

In response to the report, Rep. Kerri Evelyn Harris, chair of the House Health and Human Development Committee, commended the subcommittee’s work, stating that state retirees deserve quality healthcare benefits, and the recommendations provide guidance for decision-making. Sen. Sarah McBride, chair of the Senate Health & Social Services Committee, also expressed gratitude for the subcommittee’s efforts and urged the State Employee Benefits Committee and the General Assembly to use the roadmap for maintaining a robust and affordable retiree healthcare plan.

The subcommittee’s recommendations encompass a holistic approach, addressing not only retiree benefits but also delving into healthcare pricing in Delaware. These include proposed statutory, regulatory, and administrative changes in 2024 to enhance transparency, consistency, affordability, and sustainability in healthcare pricing and price growth.`

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