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OPERS Board Approves Changes, Reductions In Health Care Assistance

OPERS Board of Directors meet to discuss the changes in health care assistance.
Andy Chow
OPERS Board of Directors meet to discuss the changes in health care assistance.

Thousands of retirees will see changes to their health care benefits after the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS) Board of Directors approved a new plan for the way members receive assistance.

The change eliminates what's known as the group plan for OPERS retirees under 65-years-old. Those retirees will have to find their own health care plan and OPERS will provide a monthly stipend to help pay for that plan.

Retirees over the age of 65 on Medicare will see a reduction in the base cost allowance. This is aid that is intended to help fill in the gaps of costs not covered by Medicare, known as OPERS Medicare Connector. The current base cost is $450, while the new plan would reduce that base cost to $350.

An individual's final allowance is based on their age and years of service in the system.

OPERS Spokesperson Mike Pramik says right now there's no more money going into the health care assistance fund.

"What we're trying to do is to preserve health care long enough, sort of extend it long enough to the point where we can start funding it again," says Pramik.

OPERS provides health care coverage but is not legally required to do so. The retirement system has also asked the legislature to approve a cost of living adjustment (COLA) freeze for retirees in order to reduce a $24 billion unfunded liability. OPERS believes their proposed freeze would eliminate $3.4 billion of that liability.

The new health care assistance plan would go into effect on January 2022.

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.