Check the Bank Account, Not the Couch Cushions


Tom Moutes

Retirees Update

By Tom Moutes, RLACEI Legislative Director

If your bank account were constantly overdrawn, would you prioritize your expenses or simply clip a few cents-off coupons? Would you try to figure out how to make more money, or would you simply look under your couch cushions for loose change? The City’s answers seem to be to clip coupons and check under the cushions!

For some 20 years, the City has run a structural budget deficit, meaning that it consistently spends more than it takes in. A rational approach to this problem would be to prioritize how the City’s funds are spent. Instead, we get a Council motion asking LACERS to look at reducing healthcare costs by methods including negotiating with providers (as if it doesn’t already!) and exploring using Affordable Care Act (often referred to as Obamacare) plans! Another recent Council Motion suggested that LACERS use health savings accounts (HSAs) instead of its proven methodologies to provide good health plans at very competitive rates. These motions remind me of the old saying about solutions looking for problems!

As detailed in my March Alive! article:

  • LACERS Retiree health benefits are exceptionally well funded at 85.6 percent. This funding level is virtually unparalleled in any jurisdiction in the country. 
  • LACERS already works diligently every year to help ensure the best possible pricing for the healthcare plans it makes available to its Retired members. 

But let’s not let the facts that LACERS Retiree healthcare benefits are well funded and well administered get in the way! Let’s toss around some ill-informed Council motions! 

By increasing Retiree healthcare costs, these motions would be detrimental to Retirees and would not provide corresponding benefits to Retirees or the City. Attempting to diminish Retiree healthcare benefits (especially in the middle of a pandemic) is a terrible message to send to Retirees who spent their careers trying to make the City a better place. 

I am reminded of another old saying: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!