Committee considers insurance for city retirees

jwilliams@macon.comJune 12, 2013 

The Macon City Council’s Employee Development and Compensation Committee began a discussion Wednesday about city insurance for retirees, including eligible City Council members.

A resolution to re-establish health insurance eligibility for Medicare-eligible retirees and for qualified retired City Council members was amended during the meeting to add the provision that the premiums would be paid by retirees at 100 percent of the city’s premium cost.

Councilwoman Nancy White proposed the amendment and said the city can’t afford to start subsidizing Medicare-eligible retirees’ health care. She also said that while taxpayers are paying higher premiums than ever, to ask them to subsidize the program and offer it to City Council members is “tone deaf.”

White said the resolution would offer an option for retirees that they could take advantage of if they thought they would benefit from it. It could provide secondary coverage in addition to Medicare and also would allow for spouses or dependents to be covered under the city’s plans.

“If (retirees) prefer the city’s plan to Medicare, they can have it if they are willing to pay for it,” White said.

She said this idea is based on the state government’s model.

Councilman Charles Jones called for the resolution to be tabled because he said the committee needs more information to make a decision and then present a clear option to retirees so that they can make an intelligent decision about whether to opt in to the program.

Jones said he wanted to know things like estimated cost, a clarification in wording about what the option of getting a city-paid insurance plan would mean to retirees, and how it would apply after the Macon-Bibb County consolidation. Jones said he thought no one would want to pay 100 percent of the premiums.

“But that’s not my call to make,” Jones said. “My call is to get the facts.”

White said she would support the resolution with the amendment because it was budget neutral, but she still voted against tabling it because she said it is bad legislation and she doesn’t think it should move forward.

She questioned why the council would introduce further disparities between city and Bibb County employees just months before consolidation.

Jones also pointed out that the same battle about retirees’ insurance was lost before. The resolution was tabled Wednesday, and Jones said it could take a month or more to get the information needed to revisit the issue.

To contact writer Jaime Williams, call 744-4331.

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