The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Maryland State Retirees:
Who Can Afford This?

Sep 17, 2018

“It becomes a choice between your house and your life,” Ken Fitch recently told a Baltimore Sun reporter. On January 1, 2019, Fitch’s out-of-pocket prescription drug co-pays are scheduled to increase from about $930 a year to over $11,680 a year!

Fitch is one of four Maryland State retirees who are suing the state and Governor Larry Hogan to try to stop the termination of their state prescription drug plan. Their lawyers are seeking to make their case a class-action suit that would apply to 38,000 Medicare-eligible state retirees who will be forced to enroll in Medicare Part D for their prescription coverage after January 1. The monthly premium charges for Part D plans are similar to the current premiums for Maryland retiree prescription plans, but ... the co-pays are MUCH BIGGER.

The biggest union among Maryland state employees—AFSCME—says they support the lawsuit. But this plan to end state prescription drug coverage for retirees was first approved and put in motion back in 2011 by a governor they vigorously supported—Democrat Martin O’Malley. And in both houses of the heavily Democratic- controlled legislature, almost all the delegates and state senators voted to approve the termination plan. The current Republican governor, Hogan, simply said since taking office in 2015 that he would not stop it.

“The state has forgotten that its employees and retirees are human beings,” the attorneys for the retirees wrote in the lawsuit. But in fact, the state has “forgotten” nothing. The State of Maryland, like every other big organization—public or private, Republican or Democrat—has always remembered to take what it can from working people, and give that in huge tax breaks and subsidies to the big developers, corporations and banks. It has only recognized that its employees and retirees are human beings when it was forced to do so.