Special meeting regarding healthcare, city retiree benefits set for Sept. 7

Published: Sep. 6, 2022 at 2:21 PM CDT
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - Every year, the City of Shreveport has a meeting to build healthcare plans for active and retired employees.

This time around, several current and former employees have spoken out against the city’s decision to change their insurance provider for 2023.

“The City of Shreveport has used the general fund to pay for the increase in healthcare costs for more than a decade,” said Mayor Adrian Perkins. “Instead of passing on that financial burden to employees and retirees, the city absorbed those costs. Since contributions have not kept pace with rising healthcare costs, the City of Shreveport and the Healthcare Trust Fund Board had to find a way to manage a $13 million deficit.”

Officials say after coming through the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021, the city took on another $5.3 million in healthcare costs to prevent rising rates for its employees. City employees and retirees were told at that time the city could no longer continue to take on costs, and that some changes would be coming for the 2023 enrollment period.

According to the city, the Healthcare Trust Fund Board is selecting BlueCross BlueShield as the provider for 2023. Meanwhile, Willis-Knighton explains that city employees and retirees could pay more in out-of-pocket costs if they choose to go to the WK hospital system.

[MORE: Shreveport officials say Willis-Knighton will be included in ‘23 healthcare options for city employees, retirees]

“The proposed options include only Christus and Ochsner/LSU hospitals and doctors in Tier 1, pushing WK down to Tier 2. Employees/retirees who choose Tier 2 providers would likely pay more out of pocket costs, as is customary wit tiered plans. If this is the case, employees/retirees who choose to continue receiving services from their WK doctors and hospitals would be financially penalized,” states a news release sent out by the health system.

During Aug. 17′s meeting, several people spoke directly to the board, voicing their concerns.

“I think it is unfair. I think it is turning their backs on city employees all for the sake of maybe saving a dime and we’re not going to stand for it,” said Bernie Piro, a retired Shreveport firefighter.

The special meeting will be held Wednesday, Sept. 7 at 3 p.m. at 600 Clyde Fant Pkwy. in Shreveport.