COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Angry police and fire retirees from all over Ohio demanded answers Wednesday from the Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund Board.
At a pension board meeting, retired first responders came armed with questions and complaints about their drastic change in health care coverage. The change took the retirees from a group insurance plan to a stipend system that forces them to buy private, individual plans. The retirees demanded changes to the insurance system and that the pension fund CEO David Gallagher resign.
“Here’s over a thousand signatures, Mr. Gallagher — a thousand signatures for a vote of no confidence in you,” Cindy Combes, a retired assistant police chief from Cincinnati, said. She pointed out that retired police officers and firefighters often sacrificed their health and put their lives on the line in service to others.
“I would ask my fellow police and firefights on this board to stand up,” she said. “We protected you when you were our rookies or whatever the heck you were. We always had each other’s back. I’m not seeing that today.”
Retirees accused board members of failing to adequately investigate the health care platform Aon that they are being moved to. They say Aon representatives had meetings around the state and made promises they could not deliver.
“It appears to me that you as trustees are putting your heads in the sand. You know that people are upset,” Combs told the board. “On your website, you say we have a really good percentage of people signing up [for the individual plan]. That’s because we have no choice.”
Now, retirees say they are stuck with sky-high deductibles and plans that do not cover most doctors, hospitals, treatments or anything for retirees who have moved out of state.
David Graham, a spokesperson for the pension fund board, said it’s not realistic to scrap the Aon plan and start over. He also said millions of dollars’ worth of claims have already been successfully processed through Aon and despite arguments to the contrary, that retirees are receiving their stipends.
“We will continue to make this better, to work to improve every part of the process,” he said.