Prescription Drug Benefits Hearing in Annapolis

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State retirees have been searching for clarity on the question of prescription drugs benefit plan changes since the changes were scheduled to go into effect in 2018. Following delays and in the midst of a court case the Maryland Department of Budget and Management (DBM) testified at a hearing to explain the implementation of the new plan following legislation from the 2019 Maryland Legislative Session. Unfortunately for members and retirees, the hearing brought about just as many, or perhaps more questions than answers.

The hearing on Tuesday, October 29, in the joint committee hearing room in Annapolis, was the center of attention for state employees and retirees. A strong contingent of members from the locals of AFT-Maryland were in attendance to hear the updates and get clarity on the implementation of the legislation. An example of the lack of clarity from DBM is best exemplified in an exchange between Del. Brooke Lierman and DBM Secretary David Brinkley. Del. Lierman asked Sec. Brinkley how the implementation of the new plan would look if the state were to win the court case. Sec. Brinkley didn’t answer, instead noting it was a good question but responding that it was “entirely premature, until we see the outcome of the litigation.”

AFT-Maryland members of Maryland Professional Employees Council (MPEC) and AFT Healthcare-Maryland who are near retirement are trying to make important life decisions around the future of their careers and their prescription drug benefits. Those who may want to retire before 2020 needed to file their paperwork by November 1, 2019 to allow for the 60 day processing period the state demands. AFT- Maryland Political Coordinator Todd Reynolds told Maryland Matters, “Everybody’s in a difficult position because they’re having to make decisions that affect the rest of their lives on a very nebulous timeline...There are just so many variables up in the air. State employees deserve clarity.”

2019-10-29