The Cortland County Legislature has voted 10 to 6, to change the current county retirement health insurance to potentially save the county $800,000 each year.
Before voting by legislatures took place, a public hearing was held regarding the potential change. Residents voiced their concerns on several issues including if they can keep their current doctors, a lack of notice of the change, not an option to opt-out, denial of coverage, and more.
“Don’t we deserve better, after our years of dedicated service?” said Donna Johnson, who spoke during the public hearing to the Legislature.
Commenters also complained that the plan wasn’t passed by any retirees, and they had no say on the potential change and that work on the new plan was taking place over the previous year, but the legislature was “sneaking around” in terms of how the new plan was being figured out.
Later on, legislators then discussed the current proposal on the change, with some believing the change is “too fast” and some legislators complaining they were not aware of it until they received a notice of an informational meeting that took place last month. Legislator Ronald VanDee also brought up there are still questions that need to be answered on the new proposed plan.
If legislators were to postpone the vote last night, it would take another year until the changeover would be able to take place. Legislator Beau Harbin spoke on his understanding that it would be another year, but mentioned he is still having constituents asking questions on the change and not all have been answered.
“I think we owe that measure of respect for our retirees to get those answers and make sure they have all the information ahead of them.” Harbin said to his fellow legislators on supporting a delay.
A motion to postpone the vote failed 10-6 after a roll-call vote took place. It was after the roll-call Legislator Price proposed amending the insurance change with an insertion making the plan voluntary for retirees and allow retirees remain in the current county health insurance coverage, it was also voted down.
The consultant company working on finding a new plan for the county, Assured Partners, has been working on finding a plan since they were approved by the legislature last year to be the designated consultant.
“The benefits are better and I am absolutely 150% sure. The employees pay less and long-term for this county to succeed [money saved].” said Bill Brothers of AssuredPartners.
After more debating, legislators passed the new plan with a final tally of 10 to 6 in favor of authorizing an agreement with United Healthcare. The new plan, effective January 1st, 2024, will feature no annual deductible, prescription co-pays either no cost or one dollar, and no co-pays for a majority of services. It was also noted that vision and dental coverage were to be added under the plan with United Healthcare. However, if retirees plan to go out-of-network, it is likely they will have to pay more.