Town of Massena’s retiree plan draws criticism

Published: Nov. 28, 2022 at 5:03 PM EST
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TOWN OF MASSENA, New York (WWNY) - To balance its budget, the town of Massena is making changes to its retiree health care plan. That’s drawing criticism from a statewide advocacy group that says this move is happening all over New York and it’s not right.

To save money, the town of Massena is ready to change its health plan for Medicare-age retirees. At first, the town was going to go with a new plan that would save the town money and provide vision and dental insurance to retirees. But the retirees didn’t want the change.

“They understand also the town budgets and what we’re trying to do. They told us they did not want dental and vision. They were happy with what they have,” said Massena Town Supervisor Susan Bellor.

So the town will stick with the current AARP United Healthcare Supplement and prescription plans. However, there will be changes.

For example, retirees will be responsible for paying out of pocket for their prescriptions, meaning they won’t get the previous reimbursement from the prescription plan of $1,500 a year.

Edward Farrell, the executive director of the Retired Public Employees Association, says retirees shouldn’t be how the town balances its books. He wrote a letter to the town supervisor earlier this month.

“If a municipality wants to change retiree benefits, they should do it for future retirees, not retirees who are already out there,” said Farrell.

Bellor says the town isn’t making these decisions alone and is being transparent.

“Other town boards may have gone ahead to make decisions without consultation. I don’t work that way,” she said.

The board tabled a resolution that would require new retirees to automatically be enrolled into the Medicare Advantage Plan after January 1.