As most of you know, there were a variety of bills introduced this legislative session to FIX the prescription law that was passed in 2011 eliminating Medicare eligible retirees from the State prescription program. Many Delegates and Senators promised to FIX the prescription problem. HB98, HB979 and SB193 were introduced to reverse the 2011 law. This was the FIX supported by the MTA and MSPAA.
However, other bills, HB 490, HB1004, HB1033 and HB1120, were also introduced to address the prescription problem. In the Senate, SB946 (cross file to HB1120) was introduced by Senator Griffith. Although the MTA and MSPAA testified in support of HB98, HB979, and SB193, these bills have not moved on.
SB946 and the cross-file HB1120 are the only two pieces of legislation that have moved forward. SB946 has successfully passed the Senate and moved to the House Appropriations Committee. Appropriations gave a favorable report and on Friday, March 22nd, the House passed SB946 on second reading and are set vote on the bill either Monday or Tuesday. There are several amendments to the bill, but the main question is:
- How will this legislation impact current and future retirees of the Maryland State Police?
Simply put, if this legislation passes third reading and becomes law, this WILL occur:
the State shall discontinue prescription drug benefits for: (1) a Medicare–eligible retiree; (2) the Medicare–eligible spouse or surviving spouse of a retiree; and (3) a Medicare–eligible dependent child or surviving dependent child of a retiree.
The “Fix” your Delegates and Senators have settled on is to keep alive some provisions of the 2011 law and to DISCONTINUE your state prescription drug coverage when you become Medicare eligible. There are a variety of other pieces of the legislation that are listed to satisfy retirees such as limiting out of pocket expenses, but NONE of these amendments keep a retiree in the state’s prescription drug system when they become Medicare eligible. You will have to sign up for Medicare Part D and navigate a variety of programs to determine which insurance plan is right for you.
I encourage everyone to contact your delegate on Monday to voice your opposition to SB946 (or HB1120, the cross-filed legislation). Their argument that keeping retirees on the State’s prescription program is too costly is inaccurate. They are choosing this argument to sell SB946. The state has the finances available to not only fund continued coverage of the State prescription program but to reduce the future unfunded liability. The MTA has taken a stand, it is imperative that active and retired Troopers do the same.