SEBC’s Decision to Halt Enhanced COVID-19 Benefits Leaves State Employees and Retirees Feeling Disappointed: Healthcare Concerns, Lack of Transparency and Accountability Highlighted

Health premiums for Delaware state employees set to increase

In a recent decision, the SEBC opted not to vote on continuing enhanced COVID-19 benefits, which means employees will now have to pay pre-COVID-19 costs for services such as primary care visits, hospital stays, and telemedicine. This move comes after a related decision by the state employee benefits committee to award the operation of the Medicare Supplement Plan for retirees to Highmark Delaware for a two-year term starting January 1, 2025, with an optional one-year extension.

The decision was met with opposition from some members of the committee, including Shaun O’Brien, policy director with the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees. O’Brien voted against the decision and cited concerns about the reliability of the SEBC and lack of transparency. Similarly, State Rep. Paul Baumbach supported the decision virtually but expressed concerns about the lack of confidence in the committee’s actions and emphasized the importance of keeping promises made to retirees regarding their healthcare benefits. Baumbach is sponsoring legislation to increase transparency and accountability within the committee.

In addition to these decisions, the SEBC also approved changes to ensure equal access to care for individuals with mental health or substance abuse disorders. The committee also approved wigs and mastectomy bras as enhanced women’s benefits but did not approve cooling caps. The total cost of these changes was estimated at between $507,000 and $557,000 further illustrating how important these decisions are for state employees and retirees.

Overall, these decisions by the SEBC have significant implications for state employees and retirees’ healthcare benefits and highlight ongoing concerns about transparency and accountability within government agencies responsible for managing these programs.

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