City Hall holding informational meetings for new retiree health care plans

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Several hundred Memphis city retirees attended an informational session at Bert Ferguson Community Center in Cordova Tuesday.

Though they came from diverse backgrounds and represent a manifold of city departments, many united behind a similar sentiment of betrayal and frustration.

"The city just kicked all the old folk aside. How do you do that your people?” retired firefighter Raymond Chapman said.

“This is something we were promised. It’s not something that came off the top of our heads," retired librarian Karen Parsley said.

Mayor Jim Strickland announced last month the city would offer retirees a new private health care exchange rather than city-run insurance.

Many, like retired engineer Arthur Pike, are having to do sign up for the first time.

“I’m 75 years old and I’m just now starting out to get insurance," Pike said. "I was promised 40 years ago, 'You’ll never worry about insurance.' That’s the reason I took the job I took.”

City officials said the municipality couldn't afford rising health costs.

They said health care makes up about $120 million of the city’s $660 million budget.

City Hall also has to pay into pensions.

Some retirees said they were disappointed, but in a way understood they’re making a sacrifice.

“If something don’t change we’re not gonna get qualified people. That’s what we need,” Chapman said.

"I cant say its going to be a bad thing until we go through the whole process," Parsley said.