Judge Axes Pension Fund Lawsuit over Healthcare Shift

Pension participants filed suit after program’s pullout from healthcare coverage.

A judge threw out a class action lawsuit against the Ohio Police & Fire Pension Fund over its shucking of  a group health insurance plan in favor of a flat fee for retirees to use in finding their own care.

The suit, filed in December in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, claimed the Ohio Police and Fire Board breached a contract by altering rules to retirees’ healthcare plans. The plaintiffs complained that they were saddled with high deductibles and a limited network of doctors.

But Judge Richard Frye dismissed the action, ruling that the pension plan’s board was not responsible for furnishing retirees with healthcare coverage. “Despite these difficulties, it is abundantly clear in the record that the OP&F Board was thorough and conscientious in trying to accomplish the transition,” the judge wrote.

Starting in 2019, Ohio police and fire retirees were moved from a group insurance plan to a stipend system that forces them to buy private, individual plans. This mainly affected retirees who were not yet eligible for Medicare, which begins at 65. The new system only distributed monthly stipends to retirees to assist in paying for coverage purchased in the private marketplace.

Retirees accused board members of failing to adequately investigate the healthcare platform AON, which provided the private insurance marketplace. They said AON representatives had meetings around the state and made promises they could not deliver.

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