Thursday, April 29, 1999

Bill offers options for state retirees


Health plans don't cover out of state

BY PATRICK CROWLEY
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FRANKFORT — Retired state employees living outside Kentucky would have more options for health insurance under a bill filed by state Rep. Jon Draud, R-Crestview Hills.

        Out-of-state retirees are no longer covered by Kentucky Kare, the state-run health insurance plan Gov. Paul Patton's administration shut down last year because it was losing nearly $3 million a month.

        Most out-of-state retirees not eligible for Medicare chose Kentucky Kare because it allowed them to go to doctors around the country.

        But with the demise of Kentucky Kare, the only choice for retirees who live or move out of state in 1999 is a nonmanaged-care plan offered through Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

        Mr. Draud said the state has an obligation to former workers.

        “It's a matter of keeping our word,” he said. “Retiree insurance is a benefit of employment, a contract for our employees.

        “Without such support of our retirees, we would be unable to retain quality employees and maintain a competitiveness with the private sector employment standards,” Mr. Draud said.

        Under Mr. Draud's bill, retired state employees would have the option of receiving an annual insurance premium voucher or cash payment equal to the annual state insurance benefit that could be used for a managed care plan.

        Kentucky Kare, a self-insurance program for state employees, teachers and other public workers, had been losing at least $2.6 million a month last year and lost $34 million in 1997.

        Costs were projected to rise more than 33 percent within a year if Kentucky Kare provided coverage this year.

        Current employees and retirees still living in Kentucky and previously covered by Kentucky Kare are able to choose from three companies' managed care plans.

        Mr. Draud's bill, the first he has filed, will be considered when the Kentucky General Assembly meets in January for its legislative session.

        Mr. Draud represents Kenton County's 63rd House District.

       



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