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Noon(ish): Uncertain Futures For Ohio Public Retirees, 20-Somethings @Home

The Ohio Public Employees Retirement System building in downtown Columbus [Karen Kasler / Statehouse News Bureau]]
The Ohio Public Employees Retirement System building in downtown Columbus.

The view from the Idea Center

The Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS) Board of Trustees dropped the hammer on proposed changes to shore up the solvency of its health care trust fund.

In a 9-2 vote yesterday, the board approved health care cuts that will impact both current and future OPERS retirees.

Starting in 2022, OPERS will reduce the reimbursement allowance on medical expenses for current Medicare-eligible retirees. They’ll drop from their current range of $225 to $405 per month (how much a retiree gets is based on a range of factors) to a range of $178 to $315 per month , according to the Akron Beacon Journal.

For retirees who aren’t yet eligible for Medicare, OPERS is dropping its health care plan all together. Instead, it will give those retirees money to help them buy a plan on the open market.

One of the dissenting board members, Tim Steitz, who represents retirees, said he couldn’t support the reductions when the board is also seeking a cost-of-living adjustment freeze for pension recipients in 2022 and 2023. The board approved the freeze but state lawmakers must agree to it.

OPERS is struggling to keep up with demographic trends. More people are retiring. Those folks have longer life expectancies, and the medical costs required to keep them healthy continues to rise.

OPERS’s executive director told the board the health care fund would run out of money in 11 years if the reductions weren’t approved. The changes are expected to add four to seven years to the fund’s life span. By that time, the pension fund is supposed to resume setting aside money for health care.

Worried OPERS members – both already retired and not – must be crossing their fingers.

See you bright and early tomorrow morning on the radio,
Amy Eddings

Need to KnOH

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