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Education

January 16, 2014

Retired BCS workers speak out against alternative health plan

BEEKMANTOWN — Despite having multiple sclerosis, Dr. David Walter is able to walk reasonably normally with the help of Ampyra, one of 13 drugs prescribed to him.

But if he had to buy all his prescriptions under Plan B health insurance, the retired Beekmantown Central School superintendent estimates his annual co-pay would be about $8,000.

“That’s an awful lot of money,” Walter told the Beekmantown School Board at Tuesday’s meeting. “I’m not wealthy by any stretch of anybody’s imagination, although I probably am one of the highest paid people that you’ve had here retire.”

And if the board were to switch all of the school’s retired teachers and support staff from Plan A to Plan B, he noted, someone who retired 35 years ago with a final salary of $17,000 surely wouldn’t be able to afford such costs.

TIED TO NEGOTIATIONS

Walter was one of several at the well-attended session who spoke out against moving to the alternative plan, which carries lower premiums but higher deductibles and co-insurance costs and has no out-of-pocket maximum on prescription drugs.

Sydney Garrant described to the board how in her 34 years as a teacher, counselor and administrator, she and others gave up monetary settlements and other benefits to ensure they would have Plan A in retirement.

“It is wrong not to keep your word,” she said.

Some speakers pointed out that active teachers and support staff, who recently negotiated a switch to Plan B, did so under the impression that retirees would remain on Plan A.

“There is no way the unions ever would have agreed to this if you had told them you were going after the retirees,” former School Board member Richard Lavigne told the board.

He noted that several on the negotiating team stated publicly at the district’s December health-insurance forum that they were told retiree health insurance would not be switched.

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