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UMaine System pauses planned retiree health benefits transition amid concerns

Published: Nov. 19, 2020 at 4:40 PM EST
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ORONO, Maine (WABI) - The University of Maine System is “pausing” to address concerns over a planned retiree health benefits transition.

The move comes after the University heard concerns from dozens of retirees and eleven University of Maine System retirees filed a lawsuit against the public university system.

The lawsuit they filed seeks an injunction to stop the change, set to take effect on January 1st.

Separately, three of the System’s labor unions are challenging the change.

Retirees say the new plan violates their contractual rights and will result in higher health care costs for many.

About three-thousand retired UMaine System employees would be impacted.

It’s expected to save the university system about $2.5 million a year.

UMS Chancellor Dannel Malloy said in a statement Thursday afternoon:

“We remain committed to our retirees and providing them affordable, quality health care and will conduct our review quickly to resolve the concerns that have been raised to ensure that retirees have a clear decision in time for January 1, 2021 coverage.”

The full release can be read below:

The University of Maine System announced this afternoon that it would pause to address concerns over a planned retiree health benefits transition with retiree representatives and union leaders to determine if retirees would be better served by the System’s existing group retiree health benefit plan or new plans and prescription coverage available through the individual insurance exchange marketplace.

The move comes after UMS Board of Trustees members heard compelling concerns from dozens of retirees at its November 16 Board meeting over the System’s plans to transition retiree health care from a group plan to Medicare plans in the individual exchange marketplace and reviewed a new lawsuit filed by retirees in Cumberland County Superior Court Friday morning that seeks to halt the transition. Separately, three of the System’s labor unions are challenging the retiree health benefits transition through the collective bargaining grievance process.

“While it’s critical that UMS remains a good steward of the limited resources provided to us by the Legislature, it’s equally important that we listen seriously to the concerns we’ve heard from dozens of our retirees,” said UMS Chancellor Dannel Malloy. “And many legislators have shared the same concerns. We remain committed to our retirees and providing them affordable, quality health care and will conduct our review quickly to resolve the concerns that have been raised to ensure that retirees have a clear decision in time for January 1, 2021 coverage.”

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