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Judge hears arguments over state employee prescription drug plan

The judge presiding over the case of Fitch v. Maryland, in which a number of retired state employees are suing the state over a plan to curtail their state-sponsored retiree prescription drug plan, asked litigants on June 29th to submit written arguments as to why the case shouldn’t be dismissed in favor of the state. The reasoning behind this threat is that the 4th circuit court—the court that would hear an appeal to a decision in the case—has signaled that it believes the state does not have a contract with retirees to provide prescription drug benefits. If and when an appeal in the case makes it to the circuit court on appeal, the judge may dismiss the state retirees’ claims.

The filings are expected to be before the court in August, so a decision could come at any moment. If the judge dismisses the state retirees’ case, a state law passed in 2019 would kick in and state employees who retired on or before December 31, 2019, would be eligible for emergency supplemental prescription drug benefits, and be eligible for reimbursement for some prescription drug prices that have increased precipitously. Every other state employee retiree would have their prescription drug program moved to Medicare Part D. If the resolution comes before January 2024, this new plan (and the supplemental plan for retirees that comes with it for pre-2019 retirees) would go into effect after the 2024 enrollment period (in Autumn).

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