County costs for retirees begin to subside

Jan 8, 2013

Erie County's long-term costs for retiree health insurance coverage are apparently dropping as unions agree that retirees will pick up part of the costs.

The last time the county looked at its future health insurance costs for retirees, the estimate neared $1 billion, something the Collins administration spent time and effort trying to cut. 

That was based on many union contracts calling for the county to pay 100 percent of retiree insurance, a cost which jumps if a worker retires before being eligible for Medicare.

A new estimate puts future pension costs at $790 million. That reflects several new union contracts and new rules for elected and management officials calling for the insurance recipients to pay ten or 15 percent.

Deputy Budget Director Timothy Callan says it isn't clear what the Obama health care system will do to county coverage.

"We are still in the process of quantifying what exactly the impact of the Affordable Care Act will be in terms of current or future employees."

Callan says the big taxpayer savings will be in paying for Medicaid health care for clients .