City Council passes $2 million ‘safety net’ for retirees

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — City council members have approved what they’re calling a cushion to help retirees affected by the benefits cuts.

This $2 million ‘safety net’ will create a retiree health care fund, council members say.

George Little said, “We want to make sure that everyone is taken care of, whether it’s someone that’s been disabled in the line of duty or whether it’s someone who’s retired pre-65.”

“If it turns out that someone needs help with their detectable with their co-pay, these funds could be available to deal with that situation,” he added.

However, veteran city employees like firefighter George Langston see it as just a Band-Aid, one that cannot begin to cover the gaping wound council opened.

“We just want what we were promised,” Langston said.

Tuesday, city employees once again rallied to protest a decision to cut healthcare subsidies, in order to avoid raising taxes.

“We don’t have any security anymore,” Langston said. “By taking our insurance away they’ve ruined it.”

The administration has 60 days to come back and say who will be eligible. Retirees will have to apply to “help determine (their) level of need.”

Retired police and fire, family members, and supporters all came out Tuesday to show how fed up they are with the city. Langston wanted his voice heard loud and clear.

“They cannot survive with this,” he said. “There’s no way.”

The money for the fund will come from Cigna, which the city says will then rebate the money to Memphis over the next few years. BlueCross BlueShield will also be an option.

Council members say they’ll continue to discuss the plan next week.

The city says it will hold meetings to “provide retirees and their families with opportunities to ask questions and to be provided with one-on-one counseling regarding recent changes to their benefits.”

Retirees will also receive information via mail, phone calls, social media, individual appointments and an informational website.