Chair Talk

February 2016

Cheryl Streberger and I had a meeting with Employee Benefits and Civil Service staff about retiree health care. There has not been a decision yet as to whether the additional health benefits that were bargained for active employees will be passed on to retirees. Some of the benefits that were negotiated were for active employees only. It may be a couple months before we hear anything. State Employee Unions will be going into bargaining with the State on health care benefits because the current agreement (health care) was only for a year. The State and Unions are concerned about what impact the excise tax included in the Affordable Care Act will have on the State. The excise tax is based on the total premiums paid by the employer and employee for the health plan. Apparently, the excise tax portion of the ACA has been held up for 2 years and will not be effective until 2018. Congress is working on a fix to lessen the impact of the excise tax on Employers.

Cheryl and I met with Kerrie Vanden Bosch, Director of the Office of Retirement Systems. Kerrie was named Director of ORS a couple of months ago. We have worked with Kerrie in the past and we look forward to working with her in the future. Kerrie asked us to stress that retirees should use the MI-ACCOUNT plan on the ORS website be used more. She realizes that the wait on the phone to address questions may be long at that using the message board on mi-account may be better. Unless the questions are complex, I would suggest using the mi-account program to get questions answered. Kerrie has agreed to attend one of our CC meetings this year.

We will announce what meeting Kerrie will be attending.

The first meeting of the consolidated State of Michigan Retirement Board will be on Thursday, February 11, 2016. Governor Snyder signed Executive Order 2015-13 which consolidated 3 retirement systems (State Employees’ Retirement System, Judge’s Retirement System and Military Provisions System). The newly appointed board will oversee those 3 retirement systems. I plan on attending this meeting.

Editor’s note: Bob Kopasz is Chair of the Michigan SERA Council. He may be reached at P.O. Box 692, Mt. Morris, MI 48458; phone 810/240-8380.