California Panel Mulls Options for Covering Retiree Health Costs
A state commission on Thursday held a meeting in Burlingame to address the cost of health benefits and pensions for retired public employees in California, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Wildermuth, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/13) .
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) in December 2006 signed an executive order to create the 12-member Public Employee Post-Employment Benefits Commission. The governor and Democratic legislative leaders appointed the panelists, including union leaders, investment firm advisers, economics professors and law enforcement representatives (California Healthline, 4/30).
New federal accounting rules require public agencies to disclose unfunded health care and pension liabilities for current and future retirees.
Most agencies, including the state, fund retiree benefit costs on a pay-as-you-go basis and do not consider future liabilities (California Healthline, 6/11).
Opponents of the current system argue that California and other agencies are providing costly, overly generous benefits to retirees. They also contend that the state could reduce costs by two-thirds by cutting benefits and amending retirement rules.
A proposed ballot initiative by former Assembly member Keith Richman (R) would set the eligibility age for retiree health care benefits at 65 or 67 for all new public employees.
Union leaders on the state panel oppose such a measure but are confident that an agreement on health benefits can be reached by next January when the commission is ordered to submit its report to Schwarzenegger (San Francisco Chronicle, 7/13).
KQED's "Forum" in the first hour of Friday's program is scheduled to include a discussion on health benefits and pensions for retired public employees in San Francisco.
Scheduled guests include:
- David Low, chair of Californians for Health Care and Retirement Security and a member of the Public Employee Post-Employment Benefits Commission;
- Jason Dickerson, public retirement analyst at the Legislative Analyst's Office;
- Mike Genest, director of finance at the Department of Finance; and
- San Francisco Supervisor Sean Elsbernd (Iverson, "Forum," KQED, 7/13).
Additional details about the segment are available online. A broadcast schedule also is available online.
Full audio of the segment will be available online after the broadcast. This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.