Hyattsville considers cutting spouses from retirement coverage -- Gazette.Net


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Hyattsville officials say the city is paying more for health care for its retired employees than similarly sized jurisdictions, and a study is under way to figure out how to lower costs for future years.

The city is considering ending coverage for spouses of retirees and changing existing coverage in its health care plans.

Hyattsville paid $972,000 for health care for retired employees in fiscal 2013, about 6.3 percent of the town’s budget, city officials said.

Analysis of municipalities with the same level of staffing — Hyattsville employs 110 people and will provide insurance for 20 retirees in fiscal 2013 — shows that the city pays more than $450,000 more than the others.

“Spouse coverage for retirees is one of the things we offer that’s ‘unusual’ in other jurisdictions,” said council member Shani Warner (Ward 2).

Warner said she is willing to consider cutting spouse coverage as a means of providing health insurance for retirees while curbing costs to the city.

Council president Matt McKnight (Ward 3) said the council is also considering having retirees pay for their spouses’ coverage so spouses can participate in the city’s health plan, but Councilman Timothy Hunt (Ward 3) said the city should pay for less coverage instead of removing spouse coverage.

Warner said the council is also considering retaining the current benefits for retirees and existing employees until they turn 65 and then cutting free spouse coverage.

“We should grandfather in people who have worked here for years under a certain assumption about their retirement benefits,” McKnight said.

Council members could not comment on when the new study will be complete.

lrobbins@gazette.net