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City retiree health plan will change



By Charles Sercombe
Retirees from the City of Hamtramck will see a change in their health coverage starting in January.
And some of them are upset, to say the least.
A few retirees, which include police officers, firefighters and city hall employees, have taken to social media, most notably Facebook, to protest the changes, although no one has talked specifics.
The change comes from a court decision a few years ago, which ruled that the city can make changes to retirees’ coverage.
A state Supreme Court ruling took it a step further, saying no community — this ruling includes Hamtramck — is obligated to offer retirees any kind of coverage.
There are over 200 retirees collecting a pension from the city.
The biggest change is that the city will no longer cover family members for free. However, spouses and children can be included, but the retirees will have to pay for their coverage.
Retirees who are eligible for Medicare will be covered for their Medicare Advantage plan at no cost to them.
For those who are not yet eligible for Medicare, the city is offering three options, which will all require the retirees to kick in money for coverage.
The city will contribute $134 monthly, the same amount paid each month for Medicare eligible retirees, toward any of those three options.
City Manager Kathy Angerer said that, although the court decision came down a couple of years ago, the then-City Manager, Katrina Powell, did not take action to reduce or eliminate benefits.
Angerer said it was not an easy decision for her, but said the change is necessary to help reduce costs to the city. The city won’t know the total savings for sure until the new policy is in place.
Representatives for the four city employee unions were notified of the change, said Angerer.
Angerer is also enforcing a contract provision that says if retirees are eligible to receive health care coverage from another employer, they must take that option.
Retirees will be required to inform the city each year whether they are eligible for another health coverage plan. There are several retirees who went on to second and even third careers after retiring at a young age from the city.
Angerer noted that, while the changes may not be popular with pensioners, the city can no longer afford to provide previous coverage plans.
“The number one reason,” she said, “is because of the state revenue-sharing cuts that were made.”
Those cuts came when Rick Snyder was governor.
For many communities, that cut was financially devastating, and forced many cities to make drastic budget cuts.
Still, the change has angered a number of retirees and their spouses.
On a Facebook page called “I Love Hamtramck,” Susan Zarski Lorio, whose husband Andrew Lorio was a firefighter for 32 years, said the new plan is unfair to firefighters and police officers who risked their lives for the city.
“When they retired, they all signed contracts with the city that guaranteed their health care would, if not be better, at least never be less than they day they retired,” Lorio said.
“Through the years, we have watched our health care get chipped away with high deductibles and less and less coverage. These heroes who worked their whole careers, sacrificing more than you will ever know, as well as the sacrifices of their families, did so out of the loyalty and the promise they would be protected when they needed it most.”
October 11, 2019

8 Responses to City retiree health plan will change

  1. George Voight

    October 21, 2019 at 7:58 am

    The article is misleading. As a retiree under the age of 65 the city is no longer providing myself nor my family health insurance. The city is providing a $134.00 monthly towards approx $1,200.00 monthly payment for insurance. My out of pocket expenses is $1,200.00 per month with a $4,000.00 deductible. It’s a shame that Hamtramck has nothing to offset the costs such as a bond or mileage.

  2. csercombe

    October 21, 2019 at 10:46 am

    hey george, this is what the article says:

    “For those who are not yet eligible for Medicare, the city is offering three options, which will all require the retirees to kick in money for coverage.
    The city will contribute $134 monthly, the same amount paid each month for Medicare eligible retirees, toward any of those three options.”

    we pretty much said the same thing you mentioned.

  3. Reese

    October 21, 2019 at 12:13 pm

    It’s three a.m. smoke is filling your home. The fire department responds within minutes. Fire out, property and all lives saved. One firefighter injured, not a problem, part of their job. Let’s reward them, take away their health care. Thanks firemen….

  4. Roadman

    October 21, 2019 at 7:26 pm

    The highest paid City of Hamtramck retiree is James Szafarczyk who retired on June 1, 2007 and receives amonthly gross of $9,337.12, educed by a $1,577.03 tax deduction leaving a monthly net of $7,760.09.

    Szafarczyk was an official in the Fire Department.

    Of the top 40 retirees in pay, all are either police or fire department officials or employees. #40 receives $3,754.23 per month in net pay.

    There are retired sergeants grossing around $60,000.00 per annum in pension benefits. Many police retirees earn pay in second careers while collecting their city pensions.

  5. Roadman

    October 21, 2019 at 10:49 pm

    Andrew Lorio retired on 2/1/2008 and has a monthly gross income as a pensioner of $6137.33 and a monthly net payment of $5,394.61 after tax deductions.

    Lorio is the fourth highest paid retiree of the City of Hamtramck and earns more than several police chief retirees such as James Doyle and Marek Kalinowski.

    I salute George Voight and acknowledge the valuable services he provided the public as a police officer in his long career – but he should mention he has been actively working after retiring from the force in 2015, so he has another income source to complement his retiree benefits.

  6. Andrew J Lorio

    October 22, 2019 at 6:29 pm

    How is it possible that pensioners earned that much? Is it because they worked over time much of it forced. 48 hr strait because the city laid off fire fighters. Is it because as a bargaining unit we deferred pay raises for pension improvements offered by the city instead of insisting on a living wage that precluded working a 2nd and often 3rd job.. Wish my body would allow me to continue to work but I chose a profession where that’s not possible.

  7. George

    December 4, 2019 at 8:31 am

    FYI even though Macomb County prevailed in the MICHIGAN State Supreme Court regarding Retiree Health Insurance they are keep their promises. “According to Macomb County’s lawyers, no matter which way the lawsuit was decided there would always be health care coverage for retired county workers. As evidence, they point to the major bond sale in 2015 that the county is using to fund its retiree benefit costs. “

  8. Tomas

    February 29, 2020 at 7:29 pm

    What about the pensioners earning only 1600 dollars a month the typical Dpw worker ?

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