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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Clap For the Killers

OK, not killers literally, but close. We've been ranting on this blog for weeks now to get your interest in writing or calling the Governor to emphasize how important SB 897 is to all of us retirees and near retirees. Perhaps a true story, ongoing as I write, will motivate you.

Heres the story. A former municipal law enforcement member retired in 2000. At the time of his retirement, he looked into ODS as a Health Insurance Program for retirees. He was quoted a price, which seemed high at the time, but offered a good program. This retiree then signed up for the ODS program. At the time of this decision, a PERS employee entered his status wrongly and posted him as a State of Oregon retiree, eligible for the RHIPA subsidy. Unfortunately, no one in PERS bothered to tell this retiree that he was misclassified and that not enough was being withheld to cover the true cost of his health insurance. During a routine audit in 2009 (yes, this year), PERS discovered the error and - you guessed it - billed the retiree for an additional $9000 to cover the cost of benefits he already thought he was paying for. He started the appeal process and has had tons of paperwork to fill out to begin the appeals process. His case appeal is simple. This wasn't HIS error and HE shouldn't be responsible for paying it. A PERS employee made the error and PERS should cover the cost of the error from their contingency fund. This follows the old tried and true principle of "you break it, you pay for it".

This past week, PERS held a telephone conference with the retiree and offered (generously NOT) to allow the retiree a 10 year time frame to pay the $9100 IF he drops the appeal. Otherwise, failure to take the deal and subsequent loss of the appeal would result in him having to repay PERS over a two year period of time. And the member has until this coming Friday to make his decision.

It is this kind of outrage that SB 897 tries to prevent. Instead of holding a gun to a retiree's head 9 years later, it would establish a "data lock" that would prevent PERS from coming after members for errors like these.

Please, I beg you to call the Governor and ask him to support SB 897. Members like the one I'm describing, and members like Kay Bell should not have to put up with the nonsense like this. No one should have to live in perpetual fear that their benefit will be adjusted because some clutzy, incompetent, careless, or sloppy clerk entered data incorrectly.

1 comment:

mrfearless47 said...

To avoid any potential confusion here. Even if the Governor were to sign this bill, it wouldn't help the case I've described or Kay Bell. But it would stop much of this nonsense in the future pretty dead in its tracks.