Connecticut state retirees are having a new benefit added to their healthcare package as a result of anti-discrimination laws in President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Starting in July, hearing aids will be covered by the state retiree health plans. The devices cost, on average, about $4,500 according to the American Association for Retired Persons. Previously, insurance companies covered the costs of hearing aids for children 12 and under. State retirees were able to obtain a discount on hearing aids through Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield. However, based on the ACA’s restrictions, that age-based limit is considered discriminatory.
In response to Gov. Dannel Malloy's planned budget cuts, the SEIU, District 1199, released a television ad Monday featuring some of its members declaring that they are “not a political football.” However, based on some of the salary and benefit packages these workers received it would appear they have already scored a touchdown.
Currently, lawmakers get the same benefits that state employees receive through contract negotiations. This gives the appearance of a conflict of interest. Instead, lawmakers should repeal this law and set their benefits separate from benefits for other state employees. Similarly, state employees in management receive the same benefits as those set by collective-bargaining agreements. Even the negotiators sitting across the table from the unions get the same benefits. Lawmakers should set the benefits of any state employees not covered by collective-bargaining agreements separately from unionized employees and by statute.