June 13, 2024

SEBC Rejects COVID-19 Benefit Extension, Raises Concerns over Transparency and Accountability

2 min read
Health premiums for Delaware state employees set to increase

The State Employee Benefit Commission (SEBC) has recently made a decision not to vote on continuing enhanced COVID-19 benefits, which means that employees will now have to pay for pre-COVID-19 costs for services such as primary care visits, hospital stays, and telemedicine. In a related decision, the committee awarded the operation of the Medicare Supplement Plan for retirees to Highmark Delaware for a two-year term starting January 1, 2025, with an optional one-year extension. This decision follows a lawsuit by retirees who opposed a previous attempt by the committee to move them to a Medicare Advantage Plan through Highmark, which was successfully blocked by the advocacy group RiseDelaware.

Shaun O’Brien, policy director with the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), voted against the decision citing concerns about the reliability of the SEBC and lack of transparency. State Rep. Paul Baumbach supported the decision virtually and expressed concerns about the lack of confidence in the committee’s actions while emphasizing the importance of keeping promises made to retirees regarding their healthcare benefits. Baumbach is sponsoring legislation to increase transparency and accountability within the committee.

In addition to these decisions, the SEBC also approved changes to ensure equal access to care for individuals with mental health or substance abuse disorders. The committee also approved wigs and mastectomy bras as enhanced women’s benefits but did not approve cooling caps. The total cost of these changes to employee health plans was estimated between $507,000 and $557,000. These decisions highlight how important it is for state employees and retirees.

It is worth noting that there have been concerns about transparency within SEBC from some sources like AFSCME policy director Shaun O’Brien who has been vocal about his dissatisfaction with its decisions and methods of operation.

Furthermore, this decision follows a lawsuit by retirees who opposed Highmark’s previous attempt at moving them onto a Medicare Advantage Plan through Highmark Delaware.

Overall, this decision raises questions about transparency within SEBC and highlights how important it is for state employees and retirees

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