- Associated Press - Friday, September 25, 2015

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - Facing a $10.6 million shortfall in the state’s retiree health benefit program, policymakers considered a proposal Friday to raise copayments or premium contributions for the state’s nearly 12,000 retirees.

“None of us are happy about this,” said Republican Rep. Lynne Ober, who sits on the joint legislative fiscal committee.

Officials from the Department of Administrative Services have been anticipating the shortfall since the beginning of the state budget process and have been discussing with lawmakers options to close it.

Under the current proposal, every retiree would be hit with higher copays for prescription drug costs. It proposes raising the maximum out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs from $500 to $750 for individuals and from $1,000 to $1,500 for families. Retirees over 65 would also face a $500 deductible for inpatient hospital and skilled nursing facility benefits.

Retirees under 65 would see an increase in the deductible and out-of-pocket maximums for services such as allergy shots, behavioral health, chiropractic care, vision care and substance abuse treatment.



The fiscal committee chose Friday to table the proposed changes, pushing off a decision until at least the Oct. 16 meeting. If the proposed changes are approved, they would take effect on Jan. 1.

Of the state’s nearly 12,000 retires, 8,800 are over the age of 65 and roughly 3,000 are under 65. Retirees over 65 do not contribute to their premiums, while those under 65 pay 12.5 percent. The proposed change would raise that contribution to 15 percent. The fiscal committee doesn’t have the authority to change premiums for retirees older than 65.

Dozens of retirees attended Friday’s meeting.

“I’m sure the cost of health care is increasing,” said 74-year-old Carol Beaudoin, who worked in the insurance department for 45 years. But “I do think that I was promised full health care when I retired.”

Republican state Rep. Neal Kurk, meanwhile, noted that state law says the retiree health benefits are subject to appropriations from the legislature.

“It has never been an absolute promise,” he said.

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