Letter to U.S. Congress from President McNamee concerning the Medicare program under the American Health Care Act.
Public Safety Medicare Choice Act
BACKGROUND AND OUTLINE OF LEGISLATION
Our nation’s first responders – police officers, firefighters and emergency medical personnel – risk their lives in the service of their communities for modest pay. They look forward to the benefits their pension plans provide in their retirement years. Most public employees are eligible to retire after 20-25 years of service and most in physically and mentally demanding occupations, such as law enforcement and firefighters, retire in their mid-50s. In most cases, the average savings accrued by defined benefit pension plans allow first responders to enjoy approximately 50 percent of their yearly salary in retirement.
Unfortunately, the rising costs associated with employer-sponsored health care are gradually eroding retirement income and the peace of mind that comes with it. For retirement systems designed to provide pensions only, offering a health care plan has become burdensome and is putting pension reserves at risk. Public plans are finding it increasingly difficult to fund retiree health care and are scaling back or eliminating plans. One simple way we could immediately usher in an affordable option is through a universal benefit already accessible in every state – Medicare.
Medicare, if made available at an earlier age, would provide more plan choices for eligible retired public safety officers who have already contributed to the Part A program. Public safety officers, who have earned 40 or more credit quarters for Medicare Part A, should be able to not only buy into Part A (hospital insurance), but also Part B (medical insurance), Part C (Medicare Advantage) and Part D (prescription drug coverage).
Providing this early avenue into Medicare will help ensure that our first responders have the dignified retirement they’ve earned.
Outline of Legislation
- An eligible retired public safety officer age 55 or older, who does not have access to any local, state and federal health plan or an affordable employer-sponsored health plan, may elect into Medicare Part A, Part B, Part C or Part D.
- ‘Eligible retired public safety officer’ means an individual who, by reason of disability or attainment of normal retirement age, is separated from service as a public safety officer.
- Consistent with the definition contained in the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act, 42 U.S.C. 3796b(9)(A),(D), ‘public safety officer’ means—
(A) an individual serving a public agency in an official capacity, with or without compensation, as a law enforcement officer (i.e. police, corrections, probation, parole and judicial officers), as a firefighter, or as a chaplain; or
(B) a member of a rescue squad or ambulance crew who, as authorized or licensed by law and by the applicable agency or entity, is engaging in rescue activity or in the provision of emergency medical services.
‘Affordable health coverage’ means an employer-based health plan covering only the employee that costs 9.66 percent or less of the employee’s household income and the “minimum value” standard of the ACA that pays at least 60 percent of the total cost of medical services for a standard population to include substantial coverage of physician and inpatient hospital services.
Supplemental Insurance –
- An eligible retired public safety officer, who elects to participate in Medicare under this section, may purchase supplemental insurance plans (Medigap policies for Medicare Part A and Part B).
Means Testing –
- An eligible retired public safety officer, who elects to participate in Medicare under this section, shall be subject to current Medicare means testing.
- Cost Sharing –-
- (a) Enrollees under this Act shall be included in base calculations for Medicare premium levels.