Superior Court Ruling On Perpetual Blue Cross: Without It, Retirees Could Be Forced “to choose between other necessities and forgoing medical treatment”
So yesterday, Judge Sarah Taft-Carter issued a temporary injunction against the City of Providence rolling public retirees into Medicare once they hit 65. The trial to determine whether the injunction should be made permanent starts in May.
The city had to demonstrate a compelling public “emergency” in order to do so; the retirees had to show “irreparable harm” if it happened. The judged found the latter to be the case, saying
“The transition to Medicare is more than an entity change,” the judge wrote. “It is a unilateral alteration of a vested benefit…. Absent an injunction, the police and fire retirees stand to incur potentially thousands of dollars in new health-care costs to retain insurance — expenses that could force them to choose between other necessities and forgoing medical treatment.”
Really? Huh. In that case, I can’t help but wonder about the plight of the balance of that demographic – the great unwashed private sector out there (count me, in due course, definitively in their ranks) at retirement age if not actually retired. Not only are we expected to incur the very same thousands of dollars in health-care costs to retain our own insurance, not only are we are expected to do so often without a generous pension, public or otherwise, from which to pay those costs, but on top of that, we are also expected to pick up the cost of someone else’s Blue Cross premiums (not to mention pensions).
That decades of indifferent, duplicitous politicians reaffirmed those benefits, as the judge pointed out sans my derogatory, accurate adjectives
… Providence has been providing these costly health benefits for years, she said –– even as former state Auditor General Ernest Al-monte warned repeatedly against it.
“Despite this, the city continually entered into CBAs [collective bargaining agreements] wherein it expressly promised the retirees that it would provide them with health insurance from Blue Cross. The city, therefore, cannot claim to be taken by surprise at the present state in which it finds itself,” the judge said.
might confirm their legality but does not change the fiscal reality that they represent: whether pensions or Blue Cross, there is simply not enough money to pay these retirement benefits.
Accordingly, perhaps the most alarming aspect of this and prior court rulings is where they are driving municipalities and their retirees. By failing to recognize the very real prospect of bankruptcy as a compelling public “emergency”, the only alternative will be to turn the prospect into a reality, with the corresponding decimation of both retirement benefits and property values. At that point, of course, the situation will be utterly beyond the retrieval of all the court orders in the world, however legally sound and well-intentioned.