Sunday, February 25, 2024

Changes Likely Ahead for UMP Classic Medicare

Changes Likely Ahead for UMP Classic Medicare

On February 1, all retirees who are covered by UMP Classic Medicare are urged to attend the PEB Board annual retreat (virtual via Zoom) to learn about changes that could be made in 2025 to the plan.

With premium costs skyrocketing for this plan, RPEC, in concert with the PEBB Stakeholders’ Medicare Coalition (which RPEC formed and leads), worked last legislative session to secure a budget proviso that required the Health Care Authority (HCA) to explore healthcare options that provided benefits equal to or greater than those provided by UMP Classic Medicare but with more affordable premiums.  The proviso directed HCA to study potential options only. By design, it did not require HCA to make a recommendation on an option to replace UMP Classic Medicare.  The study findings were summarized in a report provided to the Legislature in late December.

The report summarizes three options. HCA intends to urge the PEB Board to select Option 2 (page 62) to replace UMP Classic Medicare. Option 2 will reconfigure the pharmaceutical portion of UMP Classic Medicare, so that it is eligible for federal prescription drug subsidies. The pharmaceutical benefit will convert to a Medicare Plan D through an Employer Group Waiver Plan (EGWP). This change is expected to lower premiums by $200-243 per month for a single subscriber. This option could, indeed, keep the plan within financial reach for more RPEC members.

The Health Care Workgroup, our voting representative to the PEB Board, Elyette Weinstein, as well as members of the PEBB Stakeholders’ Medicare Coalition (which includes RPEC and nine other organizations) have dissected the report and have created a list of questions for HCA about Option 2. Within Option 2 there are two potential directions. One is an enhanced pharmaceutical benefit that could be crafted to closely resemble the current pharmaceutical coverage available under UMP Classic Medicare. The other, the standard plan, includes tradeoffs, which could include higher out-of-pocket expenses for some prescription drugs.

Every day this week, we have been learning more about what is ahead. That said, the full picture of what HCA is proposing will not be made public until the agenda (with the meeting Zoom link) and retreat materials is posted to the HCA website on January 29th.

RPEC does not collect healthcare plan information about members. We have no way of knowing how many of our members are covered by UMP Classic Medicare. Thus, we will not produce an all-member eBlast on Monday when the materials are available. We will post them on the RPEC website at www.rpecwa.org.

The retreat is open to the public. Again, we urge all members who are currently enrolled in this plan to attend via Zoom on February 1st. The meeting will begin at 9 a.m. Members of the PEBB Stakeholders’ Medicare Coalition and the Healthcare Workgroup will be offering public comment to express our concerns about the implementation timeline and the need to educate retirees about Option 2, should it be approved by the PEB Board at a future meeting.

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