The following information is an update of the Prescription Drugs Lawsuit for retirees of the State of Maryland. The news is provided by the Executive Director of the Maryland Troopers Association, Rick Norman.
On December 18, 2019, the MTA Board of Directors held its monthly Board Meeting. The Warnken Law Firm provided an update on the prescription drug case, Fitch vs. State, et al. The court hearing held on December 10, 2019, had a limited purpose, (1) to address ASCFME’s Motion to Intervene and (2) an injunction relief that ASCFME sought concerning the employees
that are being “forced” to retire before the 12/31/19 deadline imposed by the new legislation.
After hearing arguments from ASCFME, the State, and Ms. Hill, Attorney for Fitch, Judge Messitte ruled that ASCFME’s motion to intervene was granted, but the request for injunctive relief concerning the deadline to retire was denied.
So what does this mean? To understand the impact on the court ruling, ask yourself one simple question, are you currently retired?
If you are currently retired (on or before 12/31/2019), there is no impact for you at this time. In the future, if the lawsuit ends in favor of the State, you will need to sign up for Medicare Part D when you are eligible. You will be entitled to a cap of $1,500 or $2,000 for out of pocket costs,
which you currently have under the State’s prescription program.
If you retire AFTER 12/31/2019, you will have to sign up for Medicare Part D when you are eligible and will be entitled to catastrophic and coverage for life-sustained drugs.
ASCFME was allowed to intervene in the suit to represent those who have not retired but will retire in the future.
ASCFME’s request for injunction relief – ASCFME asked the Court to intervene and stop the State from “forcing” people to retire before December 31, 2019, and to allow those employees who were coerced into retiring to be reinstated. ASCFME was asking the court to get rid of the December 31, 2019 deadline in SB946.
Judge Messitte ultimately determined that he did not have the authority to grant AFCSME’s request to do away with the 12/31/19 deadline and reinstate those who retired to meet the deadline date.
On a final note, when the SB946 last past legislative session, there was a section in the law regarding the implementation of the law stating that the application of this law would coincide with open enrollment for health care. The reader’s digest condensed version is, if the lawsuit ended on or before December 31, 2019 (highly unlikely), those eligible to enroll in Medicare Part D for prescription coverage would have to do so by January 1, 2021. However, with a future court date, sometime in the spring or summer of 2020, the implementation date will be pushed forward until January 1, 2022. In other words, you will retain your State prescription coverage for another two calendar years (2020 and 2021).
As always, the MTA will continue to monitor and provide all updates and information to its members on this issue as it becomes available.