Delaware lawmakers limit the state's ability to implement Medicare Advantage on retirees

Lawmakers on Thursday approved legislation that prohibits Delaware from implementing a Medicare Advantage plan on current retirees, instead giving the First State the option to offer that plan to those hired on or after Jan. 1, 2025.

The bill, sponsored by state House Rep. Paul Baumbach, was initially approved by the legislative body in March without the carveout to provide the plan to future employees, but a ruling by the Delaware Supreme Court in April prompted state senators to make changes to the legislation that necessitated sending the bill back to the House.

The repeal of the Medicare Advantage offering for state retiree health benefits aligns with recommendations made by the Retiree Healthcare Benefits Advisory Subcommittee of the State Employee Benefits Committee, which is responsible for managing state employee and retiree benefit coverage.

The Delaware House on Thursday unanimously approved House Bill 281 and 282 – the former limits the state's implementation of Medicare Advantage and the latter makes several changes to the State Employee Benefits Committee.

The Delaware Supreme Court overturned a lower court ruling in April that placed a stay on the state implementing Medicare Advantage.

COURT CASE BACKGROUND: Why is Delaware appealing ruling that blocked Medicare Advantage plan for state retirees?

The state Supreme Court ruling determined that a Superior Court judge had no jurisdiction to enter the stay and had "erred" in determining that the state's Administrative Procedures Act had been violated, according to the April 12, 2024 ruling.

The bill passed Thursday allows Delaware to offer Medicare Advantage to workers hired on or after Jan. 1, 2025, but only under specific conditions, one of them being the retiree gets to choose whether to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan.

Other bills tackling retiree subcommittee recommendations

A package of three bipartisan bills recently introduced in the House will build on these earlier efforts to protect state retiree’s health care benefits and encourage fiscal sustainability.

The House bills, which are sponsored by Rep. Paul Baumbach, House Minority Leader Mike Ramone, Senate Majority Leader Bryan Townsend and Senate Minority Whip Brian Pettyjohn, would incorporate the remaining recommendations made by the Retiree Healthcare Benefits Advisory Subcommittee.

RETIREE HEALTH CARE: Bipartisan bills build on Delaware House efforts to protect state retiree benefits

House Bill 375, 376 and 377 would make adjustments to the health insurance premium the state covers for eligible pensioners; create a pensioner coordination of benefits policy; and direct the state to provide eligible pensioners with similar coverage to the current Special Medicfill Medicare Supplement plan.

These bills remain in the House Administration Committee for discussion.

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This article originally appeared on Delaware News Journal: Delaware lawmakers approve bills protecting retiree health benefits