Retirees anticipate struggle, ask to keep city insurance

MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) – City of Mobile retirees petitioned the city council Monday, August 26, in hopes it would sway members to strike down Mayor Sandy Stimpson’s health insurance proposal.

If Stimpson’s proposed budget is passed, Medicare-eligible retirees will be cut off from the city’s health plan. The city will provide $175 monthly subsidy toward supplemental coverage for Medicare eligible retirees that will last four years.

Also, retirees younger than 65 would be spending more money for health insurance. Stimpson says most metropolitan cities have already done something similar and the city of Mobile is catching up to the trend.

“We’ve been allowing our Medicare-eligible retirees to stay on the city’s health plan at a great cost to the city,” said Finance Director Paul Wesch.

Several retirees addressed the city council calling the move “a slap in the face” and claimed Medicare simply won’t cover all of their health insurance needs.

One retiree said all current and former city employees should be a priority.

“I don’t think the city should be funding non-profits until they take care of city employees,” said John Wiggins.

Several retirees say they were told, when they first starting working for the city, they would have insurance provided by the city during their retirement years.

“We were promised insurance upon retirement as well as a pension, so I think there are many other places that can be cut besides cutting retirees health insurance,” said Wiggins.

Chief of Staff, Colby Cooper, says he hears retirees concerns but there isn’t an official record of a promise.

“At the end of the day we cannot see or find that…where we have legally mandated that coverage,” said Cooper.

Cooper says the proposed health insurance changes have to happen in order fulfill Stimpson’s vision for the City of Mobile, which includes taking care of longtime infrastructure problems.

“We are in a position where we’ve been able to be very generous. We’re at the point where we got makes it hard decisions,” said Cooper.

The first public hearing on the proposed budget will be September 2.

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