Rising health care costs are a serious issue for state government. So also is the fiduciary responsibility of state government to its retirees.
The increased share of health care costs borne by retirees should not exceed the cost-of-living increases built into the retirement income package, which currently is annualized at 3 percent. Costs beyond that recouped by an increase in premiums should be achieved through increasing taxes on tobacco, alcoholic beverages, junk foods, luxury items and tourism and entertainment venues. A serious look should also be given to limiting benefits for elective health care procedures.
Finally, the annual deductible could be raised $25-$50 per retiree and spouse per year over the next decade. The goal should be to build into the benefit package an equitable sharing of the load by the retiree and the people of the state of Georgia who have enjoyed the fruits of the labor of loyal state employees - particularly teachers, social and welfare workers, state public health personnel and law enforcement personnel.
Tom Zwemer, Augusta