Just a guy - here are some thoughts:
1) yes the "older" retiree (ages 51 to 64) in this case MAY use the health care coverage more to maintain their health - but why do we have insurance if we can't use it? Raises the question - why does one have health insurance if they are penalized by using it? It's good enough to pay the high premimums and higher out of pocket costs - but then everyone wants to drop you when you use it! In this case however, the numbers don't support the usage by this group as Huckelberry has stated.
2) As county employees we paid for retirees (this practice has been in place for the last 40 years) when we were there. I don't recall anyone complaining about higher costs to cover the retirees (knowing that someday that would be us)! Also consider that Huckelberry's numbers are inflated and the "higher costs" that the county keeps shoving down the employees throat overstated.
3) Consider the age group of the current county employees - they may be older than you think! Those employees that were getting ready to retire can't afford it now. The retiree group membership is growing in part because of the new interest of the current employees. They are now becoming aware of the TRUE costs of this issue.
Last but not least - don't be shortsighted on this issue - you may not be of "age" yet for this to be a concern - but I promise you will be! Be proactive on the issue not reactive! This group of retirees didn't get the chance - they believed in Pima county and the promise of the earned benefit of being included in the health insurance plan.
It makes since that retirees (being older) use more medical services. Users of more medical services drive insurance prices up for folks who use less services (in this case, younger, active employees). The higher price per person costs active employees and the government/taxpayer more money. How much that difference is, I have no idea, but what the other commenters are saying/implying is surely incorrect regarding whether retirees increase costs for the county and active employees. Whether they pay the full premium or not, the cost per person is higher because older people drive up the cost of insurance by simply using more services.
It is very disappointing to have a County Administrator so out of touch with his constituents (County Employees and Retirees) that he does not even know the facts and give us the same rhetoric.
After 20 years of "contribution" to Pima County, and thus not having an appropriate wage compared to the rest of the nation - Arizona is typically very low in wages - the retirees were told with an unsigned letter that Pima County would not "return" via County Health Insurance, our "contribution" that funded previous retirees. This was disheartening and costly at a time in life when we (retirees) have very limited income and no future "raises" on a fixed retirement income and thus we should not have to pay more than employed County employees who still have choices to fund their future health insurance when they retire. We (retirees) were not given any opportunity to "save" for Mr. Huckleberry's decision to not fund our 20 plus years of County employment "benefits" health insurance which ====== has never been funded by taxpayers because the retirees employment contributions funded the health insurance that should have been given to the retirees after 20 years or more of service to Pima County.
It is always amazing that Mr. Huckleberry cannot see giving retired citizens of Pima County adequate health insurance and is totally misinformed that the "taxpayers" would pay?? for something that we former County employees already contributed!!! Amazing, I wonder what "contributions" we taxpayers will make toward the cost of Rosemount Mining?
As a follow up - I offer this as additional information when you read and consider Mr. Huckelberry's spin on this situation: On December 28th Mr Huckelberry wrote a memo to the Board of Supervisors regarding his issue and in this memo he states "These retirees receive no employer contribution from the county and essentially pay the FULL premium cost."
I submit to you that he is "playing to your emotions" on this issue and misleading the taxpayer. We are all suffering during this economic time - or are we? Those with the higher salaries are busy putting their spin and justifcation for taking away earned benefits.
Huckelberry has not been honest with the tax payers about many topics but trying to infer that they were expected to pay for the retirees insurance is just wrong. The retirees paid the full premium for their health benefits. They did not attempt to demand anything that had not been promised to them in the merit system rules and policies throughout the years. When he cancelled the retirees insurance coverage, the policy still stated we were entitled to be covered. He did not even have the authority to cancel it. It was the BOS that should have made that call. The policy was not changed until six months after our benefits were cancelled. He never gave us the opportunity to meet and discuss the possibility of continuing our benefits. We were expected to go to the state plan and as a result some of the retirees no longer are able to carry health insurance because of the high cost. The tax payers should be aware of what type of person is running the county and is in charge of their money paid through taxes. He is not exactly on the up and up.
As a Pima County retiree I can assure you that I pay for my own health benefits with NO help from the tax payers. Am I calling Chuck a liar ? You bet I am and I'd like to hear him try to disprove it.
The County Administrator speaks about fairness in his letter to the editor about the Board of Supervisors' decision to rescind the Retiree Insurance Program.
What is unfair is:
1. Taking away a benefit program which has been promised and provided to Pima County pre-Medicare Retirees for 40 years;
2. Failing to apply for Federal Assistance to help defray any additional costs which might be incurred to continue this program;
3. Withholding claims data which would determine if, in fact, Retirees are more expensive to insure than active employees of the same age group;
4. Withholding data to determine if, in fact, the County's contract with United Healthcare is cost effective;
5. Claiming that Retirees have a viable option of using the Arizona State Retirement System/United Healthcare plan, when that "option" costs Retirees thousands of dollars more per year (out of pocket) than the Pima County plan; and finally
6. Claiming that taxpayers or active employees subsidize Retiree health insurance when, in fact, Retirees pay 100% of their premium cost.
Mr. Huckelberry can continue to write all he wants on this subject - we can only hope that someday he get his facts straight! The TAXPAYER DOES NOT SUBSIDIZE the retiree's health care costs. That would be a gift of taxpayer money. Geez, does he really think you don't know that or is he just playing to your emotions? With his 200 thousand dollar plus salary - I don't think he has to be as concerned with what his healthcare costs will be.
As far as his statements about this groups healthcare usage......I think its been said before - but "don't trust the numbers guy" - he will always make the numbers read in favor of his decision. However in this case, their own HR department supplied us with numbers that contradict his statement. Hopefully the Board of Supervisors are taking a closer look at his decision and "his facts" before they stand with him on this issue. Why is it that Maricopa County still includes their retirees in their insurance plan and most of the larger counties do as well? Dire financial straits in Pima County - really? Have you read some of the articles on the surplus the county has?
As far as the retirees retiring before medicare eligiblity - all I can say on that is this - we all had to adhere to the Arizona State Retirement rules and policies. Most of this group has served the county for 25+ years.
I submit to you that if Huckelberry and the Board of Supervisors don't keep their promises to their own retirees - what chance as taxpayers do we have of them keeping promises to us?
I attended Mass today for Joe Sweeney at St. Peter and Paul. There were many people there from all walks of life. Family, friends, school friends all have very good memories about him. He was a good person. He loved life and he loved people. RIP Joe. You will be missed.
Right On!! Charles. Very well articulated.
I certainly agree that Boegle's restaurant reviews are devoid of style, but I think a far bigger problem is that he simply doesn't seem to know very much about food. He tells you what he liked and what he disliked, and why, but the reader never gets the sense that these reactions are rooted in any particular expertise, or even that they are informed by much experience or engagement with the culinary world. It's as if someone who had never taken a college English class and read only magazines, celebrity blogs, and middle-brow popular novels decided to start reviewing books. In a local weekly I don't expect Frank Bruni or Sam Sifton, any more than I expect Michiko Kakutani, but I do think food writing this uninformed is a disservice to the Tucson Weekly's readers. (Though it may be a boon to local restaurateurs, as Boegle is often fairly enthusiastic about very mediocre food.)
Concerning Patricia McGrath's letter, my wife and I do extensive research on all issues and candidates that come up at election time. Many times the candidates we support at the Pimary level do not survive to run in the General elections. At that point we are left to decide as to who might be the "lesser of the evils" to have in office. Neither of us are people who vote strictly a "Party" line. Sometimes we just don't have a lot of room to choose. Perhaps it is time for the Board of Elections to add a "None of the Above" choice to all ballots for all choices, both for people and for issues.
In LD 26, which supposedly prizes public education, the voters re-elected two people (Vic Williams and Al Melvin) who had terrible records of supporting public schools. The third vote getter, with no voting record, was a woman (Terri Proud) who believed there was massive waste in education funding and declared "Kids First" (whatever that means). Among Ms. Proud's current votes is a yes vote to slash K-12 funding even more.
So the disconnect, I would say IS with the voters. Voters said they valued education. They voted to raise the sales tax on themselves, but then they chose candidates for the lege with lousy records of school support. Cognitive dissonance anyone?
Amen, Patricia McGrath. Amen.
Matt Welch of the Australian Tourism Centre doesn't read very carefully. The March 17th item, "Culinary Criticism" said: "I watched from the audience as the former editor of a renowned food magazine trashed my writing—specifically, last week's review of Janos Wilder's Downtown Kitchen + Cocktails." "I" and "my" refers to Boegle. He did not report a general criticism of the food reviews in TW. I doubt if she had read more than the one review referred to. It is unfair to suggest that the comment was directed at Kuder and Connolly. Matt Welch seems to have taken similar liberties relative to Bon Appetit. "Who reads Bon Appetite? he asks. The answer is that the magazine has a guaranteed base circulation of 1,300,000, and a median household income of $81,981. Compare those numbers to Pima County
What Dave Rollins said!
Well Harruuuuumph! Guess that's that.
A lot of self righteous certainty contained in those three paragraphs for someone this completely, totally ( oh goodness what have I done with the very little bit of humanity that my mother imparted to me ), WRONG.
Robert Alexander Dumas
I was visiting Tucson last week when I witnessed an unfortunate incident. Some poor guy properly crossing Speedway at the intersection of Stone was hit and dragged by a pick up nearing 20 yards. I do not know if this guy made it but I did stay around to report what I saw to the police.
There was nothing intentional about this accident as the driver clearly did not see the pedestrian but the reason the driver did not see the pedestrian was likely because his truck was jack-up so high there was a huge blind spot created right in front of the vehicle. This presents a danger to all pedestrians but especially to children.
In an anything goes state in an anything goes country I don’t imagine people will become more responsible in how they modify their vehicle but there are consequences and this poor guy served as an example.
The shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the deaths of several other people that was carried out by Jared Loughner has me wondering: was he induced, perhaps on a subliminal level, to commit this heinous crime?
It has always been this way: as soon as Washington starts debate on another “gun control” bill, in this case imposing new laws on border states’ sales of guns, ‘something’ always happens, some lone nut job “goes postal”.
I once read a novel by the late Robin Moore titled “The Fifth Estate” in which a sinister super-evil super-genius wanted to take control of the United States by electing men and women he had his thumb on to the Presidency and both houses of Congress.
One way he got political people he couldn’t influence out of the way was having a psychologist on the payroll that scouted around looking for unstable people he could subliminally induce to kill specific people the super-evil super-genius wanted out of the way.
Is that what has happened—again? Is there someone or some organization creating “Manchurian Candidates”, and triggering them?
Gee, Mari. Maybe we should just all go to your house and see how an "excellent Asian cook" really does it. I bet your best dish is Arrogance Soup.
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