Retiree health care, SYSC at risk in budget

Actions you can take as House prepares to vote on budget

Last Tuesday, the House Finance Committee approved the budget (HB 1) and the so-called budget trailer bill (HB 2). With the bill now set to move on to the full House for a vote, there are two key areas of concern: plans for the Sununu Youth Services Center (SYSC) and changes to retiree health care.

One issue with the budget process is that it’s fluid, meaning things can change. After the House approves the budget, it moves on to the Senate, which has the benefit of updated revenue projections. That could mean more — or less — money to work with. Regardless, we’re going to go a bit into detail on each proposed change, and the action you can take right now.

“Now’s the time to stand up and advocate for yourself and your peers,” said Karen Crowley, a registered nurse at SYSC and president of Chapter 21. “Everybody needs to come together as one and start fighting for the things we’re losing. We didn’t vote for losing our retirement or losing our jobs. We need to get together and talk to our lawmakers about it.”

Retiree health care

What’s proposed: Medicare-eligible state retirees, born on or after Jan. 1, 1949, would have to pay at least a 10 percent premium for health insurance. Anyone born before Jan. 1, 1949 would be “grandfathered in” and not subject to paying the premium.

Retirees under 65 and not yet Medicare-eligible would see their health insurance premium increase from 17.5 percent to 20 percent.

Take action: This proposal is actually an improvement over the original, but we need to do better for our retirees (if you’re a state employee, that means you). Call your representatives right now, especially if you’re already retired, and tell them how this change would affect you. You can find their information by entering your information here.

Sununu Youth Services Center

What’s proposed: Cut the number of beds at SYSC from 144 to 36. Job cuts at SYSC would be enormous: 45 positions would be eliminated. With the reduction in beds, juveniles would have to be placed in smaller facilities.

Take action: First, you can call your representatives, as the House will vote on the budget next week. You can find their information by entering your information here. Lawmakers shouldn’t assume they know what’s best for the juveniles detained at SYSC. We’re also working with chapter presidents to set up remote phone banks to oppose this plan. If you’re interested, you can contact your chapter president.

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