An early estimate to the state’s Post Employment Benefits Commission estimated that fully funding health benefits for the state’s 42,000 retired workers would average $1.9 billion over the next 28 years. The state now pays these bills as they arise; just over $490 million is budgeted for these costs in the fiscal year that starts next month. While full funding would cost more now, it would reduce future costs. The Commission includes representatives from the Comptroller’s and Treasurer’s Offices, the administration, and labor and is charged with analyzing long term funding of the state’s health and pension benefits system. The report was prepared by Milliman.
Governor Rell’s administration is aggressively pursuing federal funding opportunities in the new national health reform act, despite criticizing the reforms. The state will not be pursuing any new opportunities to cover Connecticut’s 343,000 uninsured under the act, but is only considering options to replace current state funding including $53 million to move current SAGA recipients into Medicaid and another $50 million to fund our high risk pool. The Comptroller’s Office has also applied for $100 million over the next four years to support coverage for state employee early retirees not yet eligible for Medicare. As funds for early retiree benefits are limited, the Comptroller’s Office responded to the opportunity quickly to apply early.