Retirees sound alarm on state budget

February 21, 2023

RISE Delaware is sounding the alarm about a provision in the governor’s fiscal year 2024 budget bill that the Carney administration will likely use as a springboard to replace retirees’ Medicare Supplement plan with Medicare Advantage. 

This is another sneak attack, similar to what the Carney administration did last year when it buried Medicare Advantage language deep within the budget epilogue. That Medicare Advantage plan was temporarily blocked by a lawsuit filed by myself, RISE Delaware and Thomas Penoza. 

Retired New Castle County Councilwoman Lisa Diller of RISE Delaware said legislators were duped by the Carney administration last year, and they’re about to be duped again if they allow Section 101 of the budget epilogue to pass.

The state will no doubt argue that this language, if adopted, authorizes them to proceed with implementing Medicare Advantage. 

The obscurely worded epilogue language states: “Section 101. Notwithstanding any provisions of law to the contrary, the Department of Human Resources will continue its efforts toward implementing 29 Del.C. § 5202 (d)(4) and (d)(5) and will work within the terms of the 2021 Medical Third-Party Administrator RFP and executed contracts.” 

The cited sections of law are the two sections the administration changed from Medicare Supplement to Medicare Advantage in last year’s budget epilogue. The 2021 Medical Third-Party Administrator RFP is the state’s request for bids that led to the Medicare Advantage plan selected by the State Employee Benefits Committee Feb. 28, 2022. And the executed contracts no doubt is meant to include the Medicare Advantage contract the state signed with Highmark Sept. 28, 2022. 

If past is prologue, the Carney administration will claim the Legislature has given its blessing to the state to: 

• Not comply with the Superior Court’s ruling of Oct. 19, 2022

• Bypass the Administrative Procedures Act and the Freedom of Information Act (that supported the retirees’ successful lawsuit)

• Use a two-year-old bid from a two-year-old RFP without a new bid process, thereby bypassing the requirement in law that “free forces of market competition” must be permitted to operate to the benefit of the state employee benefits coverage programs.

Further, its passage would: 

• Undermine the work of the Retiree Healthcare Benefits Advisory Subcommittee recently created by the Legislature 

• Usurp the authority of the SEBC to reject Medicare Advantage this time around, given the increasing evidence of the failures of Medicare Advantage.

If the Legislature allows Section 101 of the epilogue to be passed, the Carney administration will once again shift blame to legislators for approving Medicare Advantage. This time, the Legislature will deserve the wrath of 30,000 state retirees.

Karen Peterson is a retired state senator.


  • Cape Gazette commentaries are written by readers whose occupations, education, community positions or demonstrated focus in particular areas offer an opportunity to expand our readership's understanding or awareness of issues of interest.

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