The House joined the Senate in passing Senate Bill 29 as amended, by a vote of 35-5-1. Five Democrats, Representatives Carson, Chukwuocha (he’s becoming a regular no voter), Lynn, Moore and Wilson-Anton voted no. Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst was absent.
Senate Bill 29 adds retirees and public employees’ unions to those deliberating possible Medicare changes to retirees’ plans. The reason the five Democratic Representatives voted no might have something to do with the fact that the RISE Delaware Organization itself has issues with this bill and is asking for more, saying “We don’t want cosmetic changes in committees, we want the Medical Supplemental plan put back in state code.” There are ongoing concerns that the committee composition is still biased towards privatization and needs more oversight and input from state retirees.
Governor Carney has already signed the legislation.
By way of background, last fall, Delaware Superior Court Judge Calvin Scott temporarily blocked the state from moving its public retirees to a Medicare Advantage plan. Judge Scott ruled that the state needs to “take all necessary and proper steps” to ensure that retirees’ current healthcare insurance and benefits “remain in full force and effect.”
The ruling came after a Delaware retiree advocacy group, RiseDelaware, sued the state in September over the plan to move retired state employees to a Medicare Advantage plan, arguing that the state’s pension benefit committee did not adequately collect input from lawmakers and retirees. The committee awarded Highmark a three-year contract in February to administer the Medicare Advantage plan for 25,000 retired state employees. The plan was set to go into effect this month.
Senate Bill 29 is the General Assembly’s response. It does the following:
- Expands the membership of the State Employee Benefits Committee by adding a state retiree to the Committee and adding an additional representative from public sector union organizations;
- Requires the Controller General to provide comprehensive biannual public reports to the General Assembly regarding the work of the State Employee Benefits Committee; and
- Establishes the Retiree Healthcare Benefits Advisory Subcommittee of the State Employee Benefits Committee, whose membership will include three state retirees and four members of the General Assembly, and whose charge includes holding public meetings and issuing recommendations to the Governor and the General Assembly by May 1, 2023.
|Senate Bill 29 – The RiseDelaware Response Act on State Employee Benefits||Currrent Status – Senate Passed 17-3-1. House Passed 35-5-1. Governor Carney has signed.|
|House Sponsors – Longhurst, Schwartzkopf, Minor-Brown // Ramone, Yearick||Senate Sponsors – Townsend, Sokola, Lockman // Hocker, Pettyjohn|
|House Yes Votes – Baumbach Bolden Bush Cooke Dorsey-Walker Griffith Harris Heffernan Johnson Lambert Matthews Minor-Brown Morrison Neal Osienski Parker-Selby Phillips Romer Schwartzkopf Williams // Briggs King Collins Dukes Gray Hensley Hilovsky Morris Postles Ramone Short Shupe Smith Spiegelman Vanderwende Yearick||Senate Yes Votes –Gay Hansen Hoffner Huxtable Lockman Mantzavinos Paradee Pinkney Poore S.McBride Sokola Sturgeon Townsend Walsh // Hocker Pettyjohn Richardson|
|House No Votes – Carson Chukwuocha Lynn Moore Wilson-Anton||Senate No Votes – Buckson, Lawson, Wilson|
|House Absents or Not Voting – Longhurst||Senate Absent or Not Voting – Brown|
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