Rules could change on joint retirement

The Ohio Public Employees Retirement System and other state public pension systems have agreed to pursue a series of modifications to Ohio law that will resolve inequities in the process of joint retirement.

One of the unique benefits of working as a public employee in Ohio is the ability to accumulate service time in more than one of the state’s pension systems. Current law allows OPERS members to include credit in the STRS, SERS, Ohio Police & Fire, and Highway Patrol systems when determining eligibility for service retirement and the resulting pension benefit.

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Three new trustees to serve on OPERS Board

The 2014 OPERS Board of Trustees election is complete, and there will be three new trustees on the Board beginning in 2015.

Charles Latsa, Christopher Mabe and Steve Toth will join the board after winning their respective elections. They will join seven incumbents on the 11-member panel. The governor’s appointed investment representative position has not yet been filled after the resignation of Frank Ciotola in April.

Incumbent municipal employee representative Ken Thomas ran unopposed for his seat.

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OPERS announces CIO resignation

The Ohio Public Employees Retirement System has announced that John C. Lane, OPERS chief investment officer since 2010, has resigned to accept a position with The Ohio State University.

Lane has taken a similar position with OSU, where he will manage the university’s $1.7 billion endowment. At OPERS, he oversaw $88.6 billion in investments.

“John has played an important role in working with our board to enhance investment policy through more effective use of asset classes,” said Karen Carraher, OPERS executive director. “Under his leadership, our fund has grown from the troubled times of the economic recession to reach a record $89 billion.”

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OPERS opposes additional GASB proposals

Proposed rule changes by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board regarding health care expenses could have a serious financial impact on public employers in Ohio.

Two exposure drafts would revise current GASB statements on the financial reporting of other post-employment benefits, including health insurance. The Ohio Public Employees Retirement System opposes the changes because they do not appropriately assign responsibility for financial liabilities.

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Changes in works for non-Medicare Part A qualifiers

The Ohio Public Employees Retirement System Board of Trustees has taken action to help retirees who do not qualify for Medicare Part A at no cost to join the upcoming OPERS Medicare Connector.

The Board recommended that OPERS staff pursue changing the section of Ohio Revised Code that defines how the system provides insurance to retirees over 65 but who were never given the opportunity to pay into Medicare Part A hospitalization coverage throughout their careers. Under the new plan, OPERS could reimburse the Medicare Part A premiums for retirees who cannot participate in Medicare Part A for free. These retirees would then be eligible to select health coverage through the Connector and receive an applicable allowance.

You can click here to watch a video in which OPERS Health Care Director Marianne Steger explains the proposal.

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OPERS selects Medicare Connector administrator

The Ohio Public Employees Retirement System has selected Extend Health Inc., a Towers Watson company, to administer the OPERS Medicare Connector.

The Connector will use Towers Watson’s OneExchange to provide retirees with access to plans on the individual Medicare market, one of several changes we adopted to offer more health care plan choices at affordable prices. The Extend Health Medicare exchange, acquired by Towers Watson in 2012, is now known as OneExchange and is the nation’s largest and longest-standing private Medicare exchange.

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Posted in Health Care, OPERS Medicare Connector | Tagged , , , , , | 134 Comments

Member questions answered in health care video

In our latest monthly health care video, OPERS Health Care Director Marianne Steger addresses member questions. The topics focus on the upcoming OPERS Medicare Connector.

You can click here to access the video, which we’ve posted on our YouTube channel.


Posted in Health Care, OPERS Medicare Connector | Tagged , , , | 13 Comments

Public budget cuts can affect pensions: Study

Some states and cities have been slow to recover from the Great Recession. As a result, they’ve cut budgets and sometimes public-sector jobs. That can negatively impact multiple-employer pensions.

Research released recently by the Economic Policy Institute tracks the change in state and local government employment from December 2007 to June of this year. The institute reports that since the beginning of the recession 28 states and the District of Columbia have added state and local government jobs, while 21 states have reduced their public employment workforce.

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Timing of benefit payments can rely on paperwork

The Ohio Public Employees Retirement System periodically receives calls from members wondering when they’ll receive their first pension benefit, and when the next one is coming.

Here’s how the process works.

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OPERS offers several ways to contact us

The Ohio Public Employees Retirement System maintains a fully staffed Member Services Department that fields hundreds of thousands of calls each year.

OPERS members reach out to us for help on dozens of issues including benefit payments, retirement status and health care eligibility. Our representatives and counselors are available at our headquarters in Columbus, over the phone and via email.

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Posted in Benefits, Pensions | Tagged , , | 17 Comments