BALTIMORE – More than 150 Maryland state retirees came together Tuesday to call on Gov. Larry Hogan to keep the state’s promise to the women and men who dedicated their lives and careers to public service.
As of Jan. 1, 2019, State of Maryland retirees will be dropped from the state retirees’ prescription plan. Seniors will suffer with less health care, limitless costs for prescription drugs and will be left stranded to navigate the health care system alone.
“Thousands of hardworking women and men dedicated their lives and careers to serving our state – keeping our streets clean and safe, our children educated, providing social services to Maryland’s most vulnerable,” said Ida Ward, president of AFSCME Maryland Retirees Chapter 1. “They never quit on their communities, they never quit on our state. It is time for the governor to take the necessary steps to keep the promise and protect retiree’s dignity.”
“I am living, because I am taking life-saving medication that keeps me alive. I am living with prostate cancer,” said Jeffery Israel, who retired after 34 years in the Public Safety and Correctional Services at the Division of Parole and Probation. “Life-saving medication is currently costing me $16.66 a month – that’s what my budget allows. However, as of January 1st, this is uncertain. I learned this vital medication will cost me thousands of dollars a year with no other option.”
“As a nurse for 32 years, I went to work every day to help people – to keep them comfortable – to maintain their dignity. I take great pride in helping people,” said Josephine Ball. “I am 86 years old. I dedicated my life and career fighting to maintain the dignity of others. It is disheartening that the state now chooses to break their promise with me. I never quit on my patients – I kept my promise.”
Hogan says he did not create the legislation that broke the promise to state retirees. However, he has had four years to fix the problem, which he has failed to do. Waiting until the next legislative session will force thousands of retirees into uncertainty and create considerable confusion. Moreover, it will not solve the problem, because anyone not signed up for Medicare Part D prior Jan. 1 will not have prescription drug coverage.
Retirees are not the only ones affected by moving retirees off the state prescription drug retiree benefit. Recruitment will suffer as well.
“How can we recruit and retain the highest quality workforce when the state cannot keep its promise?” said Patrick Moran, president AFSCME Maryland Council 3. “It’s all about dignity. If Governor Hogan can’t promise dignity for our hardworking dedicated workers, what is he doing in his office?”
“Maryland is the greatest state in the nation, because of the work of the public sector,” said Glen Middleton, executive director AFSCME Maryland Council 67. “It is of a moral imperative that Governor Hogan act now to protect the dignity of the thousands of Marylanders who dedicated their lives and careers to public service.”
Without a fix, effective Jan. 1, retirees will be left out in the cold.