Baton Rouge—The Louisiana Retired Teachers Association is opposed to the sale/privatization of the Office of Group Benefits. Despite testimony before the Senate Committee on Retirement and the Senate Committee on Insurance during the recent legislative session indicating the sale/privatization of the Office of Group Benefits is not a good idea, Governor Jindal and Commissioner Rainwater push onward to force this proposal. The Louisiana Retired Teachers Association estimates there are approximately 19,300 retired educators who participate in health and life insurance programs currently offered by the Office of Group Benefits through the educational systems from which they retired. Many of these retirees also have their spouses covered through the plan. In addition, many of these retirees rely on the Office of Group Benefits as their only source for health insurance coverage since they were not eligible to participate in Medicare during their working years.
The sale or privatization of the insurance programs will certainly mean these retirees will experience an increase in premiums, a decrease in coverage, or both, as the company awarded the business tries to earn profits for its investors. None of these scenarios is good for retired educators. Premium increases are also not good for the taxpayers of this state, since the payment of up to 75% of the premiums for retirees is supported by state revenues.
The average benefit paid to retired members of the Teachers’ Retirement System of Louisiana last year was $28,548. With increasing costs for consumable goods, and without benefit increases over the last three years, LRTA’s older members who have been retired for many years are finding it increasingly more difficult to maintain their independence and overall quality of life in their retirement years. The last thing they need to face is an increase in their health insurance premiums that could have been avoided.
When the sale/privatization of a well-run program results in additional costs to the state that will be funneled down to the LRTA membership for years to come, I feel compelled to tell those who will listen that the proposal is not a good idea. Therefore, I am requesting that each member of the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget consider rejecting any contract brought before the committee to sell or privatize the Office of Group Benefits.
James A. Taylor, Sr., J.D., Ph.D.
Louisiana Retired Teachers Association
Baton Rouge, LA
9412 Common Street, Suite 5
Baton Rouge, LA 70809