Schenectady County

Retirees suing Glenville over increased co-pays

Eleven retired Glenville employees are suing the town because they say they are not being reimbursed

Eleven retired Glenville employees are suing the town because they say they are not being reimbursed for increased co-pays for hospitalization and doctor visits in breach of their contract.

Civil Service Employees Association Local 1000 filed the lawsuit April 19 in state Supreme Court. At issue is a new contract town officials approved in December with the CSEA. The town switched to a lower-cost, more basic health insurance plan and also eliminated the Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan as an option for new employees.

Co-pays for inpatient hospital services increased from $25 to $30. However, the town agreed to reimburse employees up to $250 to help offset that cost. It also reimburses up to $100 the co-payment for emergency room care and $75 for outpatient surgery.

Town officials said at the time that they could save $117,000 by switching the CSEA and highway unions to the plan.

Capital Region CSEA spokeswoman Therese Assalian said the retiree benefits were diminished as a result of the change. Active employees will be reimbursed for the difference in co-pays between the old plan and the new plan. That doesn’t apply to retirees.

“They’re being burdened financially,” she said. “They don’t have the same ability to receive that reimbursement.”

Although only 11 retired employees are named in the lawsuit, all Glenville retirees would benefit from the action if successful, Assalian said. The notices of claim were filed on March 17 followed by the lawsuit last week.

Supervisor Chris Koetzle said he could not comment on the litigation.

“We’re confident that our course of action was legal and it was the right thing to do for the taxpayers,” he said. “We’ll let the process play out and see where it ends.”

Town Attorney Michael Cuevas said the town has been consistent in its health care policies.

“When there have been changes made in health insurance plan offered to current employees, the same changes were made to retired employees,” he said.

One key difference is that the current employees will receive the reimbursement if they participate in a pre-tax health savings plan for premium contributions. Cuevas pointed out that retired employees obviously cannot do that because they are not on the payroll.

The next step is for the town to respond to the lawsuit within 20 days. Then it will work its way through the court system.

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