County Proposes Change to Retiree Health Benefits
Two San Diego County supervisors on Monday proposed a plan that could save the county about $60 million to $70 million per year by cutting contributions to retiree health care benefits for current employees and those that retired after 2002, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
Supervisors Dianne Jacob and Pamela Slater-Price said the plan could save the county up to $1.8 billion over 20 years as health care costs increase.
The Board of Supervisors on Dec. 5 will vote on the proposal. If approved, the supervisors would ask the county retirement association to reduce the benefits. The retirement board is not required to follow the request.
However, if supervisors approve the proposal and the retirement board does not enact the cuts, the proposal calls for the county to stop contributing more than $30 million annually to the health care fund, thereby compromising health care benefits for all retirees.
The plan would affect 2,631 "Tier A" retirees, who retired after 2002, and the 17,518 current county employees. The 7,030 county employees who retired prior to 2002 would retain their health care benefits (Branscomb, San Diego Union-Tribune, 11/28).
It is "fair to end subsidies for retirees" whose pension benefits were increased in 2002 "because they are better able to pay for their own health coverage," a Union-Tribune editorial states. "It's only reasonable that the same workers who reaped the pension windfall should give up free health benefits to secure their retirement checks," the editorial states.
"The Board of Supervisors, as well as the independent county pension board, should rush to approve the Jacob/Slater-Price solution -- unanimously," the editorial concludes (San Diego Union-Tribune, 11/29).