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Capitol News
(January 2017)

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(January 2017)

Pension Matters
(November 2016)

2017 Directory

Interagency Memorandum of Understanding: Retiree Insurance Benefits

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In November state retirees were mailed a Retiree Benefits Bulletin that explained the Prescription Drug Manager change for retirees enrolled in the State’s Health Plan PPO. Retirees should read that bulletin that explains the Prescription Drug Manager change.

A recent letter (dated 11/30/16) from GenerationRx has caused a lot of confusion among our Medicare retirees. The first paragraph of the letter states this letter is to confirm your disenrollment from Medicare GenerationRx effective January 1, 2017. This statement has caused a lot of confusion among retirees because they think they will no longer have prescription drug coverage after the first of the year. The confusion is further exacerbated by the rest of the letter that tells the retiree that they must enroll in another Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.

Medicare-eligible State Retirees are already enrolled in the OptumRx Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan. The enrollment in the Optum Rx plan is automatic if the retiree was already enrolled in the State’s Health Plan PPO. The new prescription plan is effective January 1, 2017. Retirees should be receiving a welcome packet and new ID cards from OptumRx in the middle of December. If you do not receive the packet/ID cards prior to December 31, please call OptumRx at 866-635-5941 to assist you.

After talking to Lauri Schmidt (Employee Benefits Director), Michigan SERA Council Chair Bob Kopaz learned that this disenrollment letter is required by Medicare rules and is pretty confident that if Lauri had had any input into the information in the letter it would not have caused this much confusion.


Class Action Against State of Michigan: Taxation of State Pensions (Okrie vs State of Michigan)

See all updates and background.

Latest Update: December 1, 2016
As reported in the last Update on August 11, 2016, I filed an Application for Leave to Appeal with the Michigan Supreme Court from the Court of Appeals’ opinion dismissing Mr. Okrie’s class-action lawsuit. In my view, I did my best work in presenting the issues and arguments showing that the State of Michigan unlawfully taxed the pensions of retired state and public school employees who were born after 1945 and who retired before 2011 PA 38 went into effect on January 1, 2012. In particular, the Application demonstrated the full legal significance of the Davis litigation and the Attorney General’s formal opinion, 1991 OAG No 6697 to the Okrie class-action lawsuit. Subsequently, on September 6, 2016, the State of Michigan filed a timely Brief in Opposition to Mr. Okrie’s Application for Leave to Appeal, arguing that there was no breach of contract or violation of any constitutional right. Unsurprisingly, at no point did the State of Michigan respond to the legal effect of the Davis litigation and the Attorney General’s formal opinion on this case (and did not even bother to cite the AG’s opinion in its brief). Quite frankly, it is because the State of Michigan has no defense to the argument based upon the Davis litigation and the AG’s formal opinion, and thus chose (as usual) not to address it.

At present, the Application is pending in the Supreme Court for a decision whether to grant or deny it; I can’t say that the odds are great that the Court will grant it and place the case on what is called "calendar call" for full briefing and argument. I suspect that the Court will make its decision sometime early next year, so we should know rather soon whether the case comes to an end or not. And it will come to an end unless I get financial support to proceed further with this case to United States Supreme Court in which I am admitted to practice. For the simple fact of the matter is that there is no way for me, as a solo practicing appellate attorney, to continue this battle unless people are willing to support it financially. And if people do not care enough to back a cause that will benefit them or represent their interests, it will die. Simply put, we can’t expect, especially in the upcoming days of the Trump regime, to get a free ride and let other people do the work. We all have to do it and contribute to achieve fair and just results in defense of our shared democratic values, or else they will wither and die.

As I have repeatedly stated in these Updates, I would like to thank everyone — above all, Mr. Thomas Okrie — for his or her support of this cause and your financial help in sustaining the effort on appeal in the Michigan appellate courts, and if necessary, the U.S. Supreme Court. As I also have said repeatedly, financial support is necessary to enable me to carry on this work in the Michigan Supreme Court and also the U.S. Supreme Court. As always, donations in any amount are greatly appreciated and needed, especially given the magnitude of this case and forces arrayed against us. To donate through a Pay Pal account or by credit card, please press the “Pay Now” button in the box to the right. My thanks to one and all in advance.

Gary P. Supanich
117 North First Street, Suite 111
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
800-419-7310


SERA Plus

Hantz Financial Consultant Chris Kemp (far right) at the Coldwater/Branch County Senior Health Fair with Goldwater Chapter Board members (left to right) Jackie Russell (chapter secretary), Bing Johnson (chapter president), Patricia Cox (chapter board member), Gordon Gentry (chapter vice president) and Mary Jensen (chapter board member) board member.

SERA is committed to providing exceptional value to its members by delivering quality financial products and services to our members through our SERA Plus program. Consistent with our philosophy, we are pleased to announce that financial planning, investment, insurance (including auto, home and liability), tax planning, estate planning advice, and banking services will soon be offered exclusively through our relationship with Hantz Group, Inc., and its affiliates (together, “Hantz”), headquartered at 26200 American Drive, Southfield, Michigan 48034.

Our decision to offer financial planning, investment, insurance, tax planning, estate planning advice, and banking services through Hantz allows us to provide you with a variety of financial services under one roof. Hantz Group, along with its affiliates, Hantz Tax & Business, LLC, Hantz Agency LLC and Hantz Bank, to name a few, provides a comprehensive approach to your specific financial service and banking needs. Hantz will offer and provide its services through its 21 locations conveniently located near most of our chapters throughout Michigan.

For more information on Hantz, including locations, please visit www.hantzgroup.com or contact our SERA Plus program administrator, Cheryl Streberger at 517-515-9815, or your SERA Chapter Liason.


About Michigan SERA

SERA is an non-profit organization devoted exclusively to issues and concerns of all current and future retirees of the State of Michigan.

SERA works to:

  • keep Michigan state employee pension and insurance benefits secure.
  • assure pension and insurance benefits are improved and keep up with inflation.
  • monitor and take action on important developments affecting state pension and retiree health care benefits.
  • inform its members about proposed federal and state legislation that will affect State of Michigan retirement systems and retiree health care.
  • stay in touch with old friends and make new friends with a common background.
  • monitor the State Employees Retirement Systems Board, the Investment Advisory Committee (which makes recommendations to the State Treasurer on investments in the State Employees Retirement System pension fund), and the 401K and 457 programs provided through Voya.
  • work with the Office of Retirement Services and Civil Service Benefits Division to help retirees and near retirees with their pension and benefits issues.
  • provide SERA PLUS, great discounts and services in many areas of retirement living such as first-year free tax preparation, estate planning, tax planning, home and auto insurance, financial services, mortgage services, estate transfer strategies, final settlement planning, and much more through SERA’s association with Hantz Group, Inc..

SERA works through its members, leaders, and committees to promote the best interests of state employee retirees and future retirees. At least eight times since 1974, SERA was a moving force in pension increases or benefit improvements. In 2011, we opposed the pension tax and helped eliminate it for 70% of retirees; we opposed the remaining tax on public pensions for those born after 1945 in the Michigan Supreme Court. We opposed the recent state employee retirement system changes. That work continues.

SERA has 21 local chapters statewide that are linked through the Coordinating Council of the State Employee Retirees Associations of Michigan (the SERA Coordinating Council). SERA chapters have periodic meetings with guest speakers, opportunities for networking, newsletters, and other activities.

SERA welcomes the new ideas and energy of new members! To join, contact Cheryl Streberger at 517-515-9815 or cstreberger@yahoo.com.