Sen. Millett announces legislation to protect UMS Retirees’ health care benefits

Posted: November 12, 2020 | Senator Millett

AUGUSTA – Sen. Rebecca Millett, D-Cape Elizabeth and Senate Chair of the Legislature’s Education and Cultural Affairs Committee, has filed legislation to protect health care benefits for retirees of the University of Maine System. This measure comes in response to the UMS Board of Trustees’ abrupt decision to change the health benefits plan for UMS retirees in the middle of a public health crisis – a move that would affect at least 2,875 individuals.

“Retirees of the University of Maine System have dedicated their entire careers to investing in the system, growing the UMS brand and providing a world-class college education to thousands of college graduates. They bargained faithfully for health care benefits, were promised these specific benefits and most importantly, they earned their health care benefits,” said Sen. Millett. “For the University to pull the rug out on these retirees and go back on their word in the middle of a health crisis, it’s just unconscionable. To do so in secrecy, without consulting the retirees, seems deliberate. We owe retirees of UMS better.”

The change announced by the University of Maine System would require retirees to enroll with Aon Retiree Health Exchange in a little over two months. Some of the concerns include if a retiree misses the Medicare Special Enrollment Period, then the retiree’s pre-existing conditions may not be covered when they do enroll. Furthermore, if a retiree is not enrolled for medical and prescription drug coverage through Aon by January 1, 2021, the retiree forfeits the right to the UMS funded Health Reimbursement Account (HRA) for 2021 and beyond.

Other parts of this proposal will have serious consequences for elderly Mainers. For example, a retiree must pay expenses out of pocket before the HRA is available. The HRA is limited to $2,100 annually, although a catastrophic HRA is available after a retiree has paid $6,500 out of pocket for prescription drugs annually.

The measure will be taken up by the 130th Maine Legislature. Sen. Millett is termed out of the Maine Senate but will be sworn in on Dec. 2 as a member of the Maine House of Representatives from Cape Elizabeth.