We’ve got all the new info!
The Nevada Interim Retirement & Benefits Committee Hears from PEBP and PERS Officials December 12, 2018.
In addition, RPEN’s Legislative Advocate Marlene Lockard protests a Proposed Fee Increase from PEBP for Medicare Retirees.
The second meeting this year of the Nevada Legislative Interim Retirement and Benefits Committee was held in Las Vegas’s Grant Sawyer Building with a video-conference of the meeting held in Carson City. Several RPEN members in the north and south were at the meeting where the Public Employees’ Benefits Program (PEBP) and Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) laid out reports of the Fiscal Year 2018 that ended June 30 as well as proposals that the 2019 Legislature will be considering when they go back into a regular session February 4.
First up was Damon Haycock, Executive Officer at PEBP, who went quickly through over 300 pages of information that included proposals that came out at PEBP’s November 29 Board Meeting that included an $8.00 charge PEBP wants to assess the Medicare retirees for Life Insurance premiums as well as HRA administrative costs. This idea was among several considerations Haycock put to the board last month, but this particular item was pulled from the list to be considered again in March since PEBP has experienced excess reserves, once more than $40 million once the Medicare retirees were pulled from the plan and transitioned to the Medicare Exchange. Going into the meeting today Haycock suggested reserves would come in at $5 million this year, though when probed further he admitted they likely could again be more than that, but they won’t know until March or April of 2019. RPEN’s Legislative Advocate Marlene Lockard testified under public comment at the start of the meeting that RPEN was opposed to subjecting Medicare retirees to another fee, no matter if it is only $8 per month. She said that could heavily impact someone on a fixed income.
Once PEBP finished with their presentation, Tina Leiss, Executive Officer of PERS stepped in and wrapped up her report in about an hour. She outlined the need to raise contribution rates for the 2019-2020 plan year, because their assumptions for the most recent fiscal year were down. She and the committee suggested that contribution rates could be improved if the state hired more employees and paid them more money. She also explained that the unfunded liability that gets so much attention from PERS detractors like the Nevada Policy Research Institute (NPRI) and the Las Vegas Review Journal, is on target to be paid off in around 18 years. When questioned by Committee Member, Carson City Assemblyman Al Kramer, Leiss also said contribution rates would also be positively impacted once that was taken care of.
This meeting began at 10:00 a.m. and concluded 1:30 p.m
Nevada PERS Retirement Board approves an increase in contribution rates for Regular and Police/Fire PERS participants to be considered at the Nevada State Legislature when it considers a new State Budget during the 2019 Legislative Session.
Active employees in the Nevada Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) will see their contribution rates going up by over 1% in the regular fund and around 2% in the Police/Fire Fund. The PERS Board approved an actuarial report from Segal Consulting November 15 suggesting the rate increase is necessary to keep the agency’s funded ratio at75% which is better than average when compared to their peers where the average funded ratio is 73.4%. Segal’s Consulting Actuary Brad Ramirez noted the overall experience for the system for fiscal year 2018 was less favorable than expected, resulting in an actuarial loss. The actuarial return on assets was 8.2% but this slight gain was offset by losses in overall demographic experience and post-retirement increases since there were 22-hundred more people who retired in the last fiscal year than the previous year. Ramirez also noted that it was the fifth straight year PERS’ funded ratio was up!
The regular fund Employer Pay contribution will go up July 1 to 29.25%, while the Employee/Employer contribution will be 30.50%. The new Employer Pay contribution for Police/Fire will be 42.50% and 44% for Employee/Employer paid.
Additionally PERS learned that the new average monthly benefit for regular retirees will increase from the current $2,860 to $2,923 ($63 more per month, a little more than 2%). This will impact roughly 52,377 retirees compared to 50,091 that collected the lesser amount in the previous year. The average monthly benefit for Police/Fire retirees will be $5,373, compared to the former amount of $5,236, impacting 7,442 retirees compared to 7,108 the former year.
During a first quarter performance report Chief Financial Officer Steve Edmundson reported the fund was up 3.8% as of September 30, however it was down another 1% from that as of the morning of November 15. However, Edmundson reported NV PERS still is one of the better performing funds among its peers. He added that a single quarter is not indicative of where they’ll end up at the end of a fiscal year so they aren’t that concerned about this information at this time.
Under reports, legal counsel for PERS said they remain in a holding pattern with a ruling from the Nevada Supreme Court that favored the Nevada Policy Research Institute. PERS met November 1st to consider options as a result of that decision. RPEN was represented at the meeting by Legislative Advocate/Lead Lobbyist Marlene Lockard and Director of Finance/Operations Kerry Armanasco. Lockard reports the board spent about an hour and a half in closed meeting with their legal representatives, followed by an open session wherein a Board member moved to petition the Supreme Court for a re-hearing on the matter. The Supreme Court’s decision in late October (following a March hearing) was split with a very strong dissent. Lockard reports being told that if the court grants the re-hearing, a decision must be made in about 45 days and said there’s about a 10% chance a re-hearing will be granted.
Lockard says this issue needs a legislative fix to end all this litigation and as a result is recommending that RPEN move forward with Senator Julia Ratti in re-introducing SB 384 from the 2017 session with the caveat that we may need to make some language changes to the bill. Stay tuned for more information on this before the February start of the 80th Session of the Nevada State Legislature
The Public Employees Benefits Program (PEBP)
Attention all PEBP Active Participants AND all PEBP Medicare Exchange Participants.
PEBP Executive Director has an important message to convey.
October 31, 2018
As the Executive Officer of Public Employees’ Benefits Program, I want to thank you for giving us the opportunity to provide you with a group health and life insurance program which offers comprehensive medical, prescription drug, dental, vision, life, and long-term disability insurance.
In order to improve the services we provide to all active and retired members, the Public Employees’ Benefits Program (PEBP) has created a short survey. Your responses will assist in evaluating our current performance and identifying areas for future improvement.
This statewide survey should take less than 5 minutes to complete and the data collected will be presented to the PEBP Board early next year. Please be assured that your responses will be completely anonymous.
The survey will be available today through Friday, December 7, 2018. It is important that you provide responses to PEBP so your thoughts and opinions can be appropriately considered.
Thank you for taking the time to participate. We appreciate your time and feedback!
Please click the link below to begin the survey:
Public Employees’ Benefits Program
901 South Stewart Street, Suite 1001
Carson City, NV 89701
PEBP BOARD MEETING
SEPTEMBER 27, 2018
It was a fairly short meeting, for the Public Employees’ Benefits Program (PEBP) Board, all things considered, but there were two important facts that came out of the meeting Thursday, September 27.
PEBP Executive Officer Damon Haycock led a discussion at the end of the agenda, involving possible direction from the Board to staff on potential program design changes for Plan Year 2020 (July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020). One of the items on the list of “options and opportunities” Haycock discussed was to stop paying Medicare Exchange HRA fees and Life Insurance Premiums from excess reserves. As an explanation for the proposal, Haycock said excess reserves may be better applied to employee benefits (HSA/HRA funding, disease management, etc.) since employees hired after 2012 will never receive an employer contribution to their retiree healthcare and they are currently helping to cover those expenses. Later in the discussion, when pressed, Haycock said those costs amount to just under $10.00 per member and there are roughly 19,157 state employees who have that amount taken out of their paychecks. Of that number, Haycock said a little more than 11-thousand were hired after 2012 and will never receive the retiree healthcare contributions. PEBP Vice-Chair and Retiree Representative on the board (also an RPEN member) voiced concern about the proposal, calling it a “loaded gun”. During public comment on the item RPEN Executive Director Terri Laird (filling in for Legislative Advocate Marlene Lockard who was called to jury duty) read a statement opposing such a proposal, telling the board that the restoration of those retiree healthcare contributions for that group hired after 2012 was an item on RPEN’s Legislative Agenda for the 80th Legislative Session that begins in February 2019. She also said RPEN has mostly retiree members but added we also represent all public employees, including actives, and so we are concerned about both groups and didn’t like seeing the two groups pitted against each other. Laird’s comments were backed up by additional public comment from Priscilla Maloney, the retiree representative for AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees); Kevin Ranft the actives representative for AFSCME and Kent Ervin representing actives in the Nevada Faculty Alliance. Haycock said no action was required on the proposals considered at this meeting, but said additional information including actual costs involved will be available at the board’s November 29th meeting.
In another bit of news before the PEBP Board, Jon Hager, from Hometown Health informed the board that they would not be terminating their contract with PEBP. Hager said they have been a valued client of PEBP’s for 20 years until discussion in the spring of this year that PEBP was going to reach out to other hospitals in Northern Nevada (St. Mary’s and Carson Tahoe) to offer their participants choice. Hometown Health felt it had an exclusive contract with PEBP and balked at the idea, eventually telling PEBP during an open meeting that they would be terminating their existing contract and going with a new RFP (request for proposal) with the agency. But during this meeting, Hager said the turmoil from the spring appeared to have abated and there didn’t seem to be a need any longer to terminate their agreement and would not be going forward with any termination. Before the meeting closed Haycock told the board he still had some reservations about Hager’s announcement due to the up and down negotiations they had with Hometown Health in recent months.
Medicare Retirees could be asked to pay additional fees in 2019 for Life Insurance Premiums and Health Reimbursement Arrangement costs following the PEBP Board’s meeting November 29, 2018
After a lot of discussion and criticism aimed at Executive Officer Damon Haycock’s handling of a controversy surrounding PEBP’s exclusive Preferred Provider Hometown Health (HTH) network the PEBP Board voted to “stay the course” with HTH, retaining the exclusivity with Renown while also implement cost controls on Renown and include the agency’s current population on the Exclusive Provider Organization (EPO). Haycock had recommended the board move away from that option based on a decision from HTH earlier in the year to terminate their longstanding network partnership when he suggested the EPO. Haycock wanted to offer members the best healthcare options at lower costs through an effort brought forth by the state’s Department of Administration, Purchasing Department. That agency recently released and awarded contracts on a statewide healthcare provider solicitation, and an agency rep told the board at their November 29 meeting they would be moving ahead with that solicitation whether the board agreed with it or not. Haycock told the board if they had the option of maximizing purchasing power through larger populations/other departments and reducing redundant solicitations this had the possibility of increasing efficiency, reducing workload and costs as well as expediting the process to contract for care. At the start of the board meeting two representatives from the Nevada Division of Insurance testified against the measure suggesting the board should fully vet the idea before moving forward with it and criticizing PEBP’s inconsistency with HTH saying the crisis was caused by what one called Haycock’s ego saying he’s more concerned with getting awards than caring for PEBP’s participants. Under additional public comment later on Item 9 that dealt with this issue, RPEN’s Legislative Advocate Marlene Lockard testified for RPEN, citing concern that the agency is once again pushed to make a major decision in such a short amount of time and consideration. She said more access to healthcare is important, but at what cost? She questioned whether PEBP should terminate what they have for the unknown? After additional board discussion the decision to accept the option of “staying the course” was approved on a 5-2 vote, with Board Chair Patrick Cates and Member Christine Zack voting against the motion. Board Vice-Chair and RPEN Member Don Bailey was absent and excused from the meeting.
Another controversial item of concern to RPEN was Item 11 involving PEBP’s Plan Year 2020 benefit design. Among nine recommendations was an item requiring Medicare Exchange retirees directly pay for their Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) fees and also pay for their Life Insurance Premiums. Haycock testified these changes would increase costs for this group by around $8 per month. Haycock said those additional costs would be offset by another budget recommendation calling for a $2 per month per year of service added to this group’s HRA over a two year period. He also said it was only fair that the retirees pay these costs since a group of active participants who will never get retiree health coverage are covering the costs currently for something they will never benefit from. RPEN’s Marlene Lockard again testified against imposition of these fees, citing the unfairness suffered by the Medicare retirees when they were moved off PEBP and over to the Medicare Exchange. She also cited the excessive excess reserves PEBP has enjoyed ever since.
In the end, Board Member Leah Lamborn, one of two retiree representatives on the PEBP Board, moved that the board table a decision on this issue until the board’s March meeting so they can see exactly how many excess reserves the agency will have by then, and if there’s a bounty of excess reserves again, there might be no need for this action. All other recommendations were approved as recommended except that one item. Lamborn’s motion was seconded by Member Linda Fox…and was approved with only one member, Glenn Shippey, voting no
Read up on everything that we have to help you after retirement.
INTERIM RETIREMENT AND BENEFITS COMMITTEE MEETING FEBRUARY 22 WAS WELL ATTENDED BY RPEN MEMBERS!
The meeting was held in Room 4401 of the Grant Sawyer Building in Las Vegas, at 555 E. Washington Ave., and video-conferenced to Room 3138 of the Nevada State Legislative Building in Carson City. There were five RPEN members in Carson City from three chapters, Fernley, Carson and Washoe as well as fourteen RPEN members in Las Vegas from four chapters, Henderson, Las Vegas, Summerlin and Boulder City. To view highlights of the meeting, click on the link below.
The IRBC generally meets twice per year during non-Legislative years to consider issues involving the Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) and Public Employees’ Benefits Program (PEBP). This was their first meeting since the Legislature ended last June. The Committee consists of the following lawmakers:
Senator Ben Kieckhefer (District 16/Northern Nevada)
Senator Julia Ratti ((District 13/Northern Nevada)
Senator Joyce Woodhouse (District 5/Southern Nevada)
Assemblywoman Maggie Carlton (District 14/Southern Nevada)
Assemblywoman Olivia Diaz (District 11/Southern Nevada)
PEBP AND VIA BENEFITS WORK TOGETHER TO OFFER ONSITE SERVICES TO MEDICARE RETIREES BY APPOINTMENT ONLY
PEBP’s Medicare retirees who are already enrolled at Via Benefits (formerly Towers Watson’s OneExchange) will have the opportunity to schedule an appointment to meet with an Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) Specialist in Carson City, Reno and Las Vegas during July, August and September of 2018. Assistance will be available for such issues as how to use the HRA to request reimbursement for monthly medical, dental, prescription drug and vision plan premiums, or qualified out-of-pocket medical expenses such as co-pays, prescription glasses and dental expenses. Assistance with filling out claim forms or how to enroll in auto-reimbursement will also be offered.
Appointments are available in Las Vegas August 13-14 and September 10-11 at the Nevada State Business Center, 3300 W. Sahara Ave., Red Rock Room, Suite 440. That location will also be available
Appointment will be available in Reno August 15 and September 12 at Truckee Meadows Community College’s Meadowood Center, 475 Edison Way, Room MDWS 105.
Appointments are available in Carson City August 16-17 and September 13-14 at the PEBP Board Room, Suite 1002 of the Richard Bryan Building.
Call 1-844-266-1395 ASAP to schedule your appointment!
If you have additional questions about these meetings please contact a Member Services Representative at PEBP, 775-684-7000.
For additional information about PEBP, please visit their web-site by clicking on the link below.
Some of RPEN’s efforts have contributed to constitutional protections of our PERS system, post-retirement increases to retiree pension benefits and an awareness of the importance of a solvent, sound retirement system.
December 12 meeting of the Interim Retirement and Benefits Committee of the Nevada State Legislature
For the second meeting this year, during the interim period between Legislative Sessions, the Interim and Retirement Benefits Committee will meet Wednesday, December 12, at 10:00 a.m. in Las Vegas. The meeting in the south is at the Grant Sawyer State Office Building, Room 4401, located at 555 East Washington Avenue, and there will also be a video-conference meeting in Carson City as well, in Room 3138 of the Nevada State Legislative Building, 401 South Carson Street.
RPEN will have our lobbyists at this meeting and a report on the meeting will be posted here. Much of the discussion at this meeting is a prelude to the budget negotiations that will be finalized during the legislative session.
To view the meeting agenda, please click on the link below:
Open records and government pensions
Members of RPEN have no doubt been following the lawsuit that has plagued Nevada’s Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) as it relates to personal, identifying information of state/public employees sought by the Nevada Policy Research Institute (NPRI). This case began in District Court and has made its’ way to the Nevada Supreme Court, much like a similar lawsuit in 2011 brought against PERS by Reno Newspapers, Inc., DBA the Reno Gazette Journal. Some retiree information is already listed on NPRI’s TransparentNevada.com but NPRI wanted more than just names, they sought dates of retirement, years of service and cost of living increases. Attorneys for PERS fought the release, but the Supreme Court sided with NPRI October 18, leading to PERS appealing the decision, only to have the State Supreme Court overrule PERS again on December 24.
NPRI, with assistance from the Las Vegas Review Journal, have been fighting to change the existing “Defined Benefit” system over to a “Hybrid/Defined Contribution-401K” system for new hires but have been unsuccessful in their efforts at the legislative level. Now, with the 80th Session of the Nevada Legislature scheduled to begin February 4, RPEN State President Bernard Paolini wrote an opinion to an editorial published recently by the Las Vegas Review Journal that again attacked NV PERS and included false and misleading information. Paolini, from the Boulder City Chapter of RPEN, had his opinion published Sunday, January 6, 2019, and to read the “real” story, please click on the link posted below that will take you to the opinion!
RPEN’s Lead Lobbyist and Legislative Advocate Marlene Lockard is honored with an appointment to Nevada Governor-elect Steve Sisolak’s Transition Team!
Governor-elect Steve Sisolak today announced his full transition advisory committee, releasing the additional 28 members who will serve on the committee along with Congresswoman Dina Titus, the Honorable Barbara Buckley and Mayor of Reno Hillary Schieve, who were previously announced as chair and co-chairs respectively.
The committee includes statewide representation as well as members from diverse backgrounds and who bring a wide variety of experience to the transition.
“I am excited to release my full transition advisory committee,” said Governor-elect Sisolak. “I have pledged to be a governor for all of Nevada and I have worked to make sure my transition team captures the diversity this state holds. Every member of this team brings a unique experience and view to the table and together, they will help me as I build an administration. By bringing people together from day one, we can deliver real solutions for Nevada families.”
The full Sisolak Transition Advisory Committee is listed below:
Hon. Dina Titus (General Chair), Congresswoman, Nevada Congressional District 1
Hon. Barbara Buckley (Co- Chair), Executive Director, Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada
Hillary Schieve (Co- Chair), Mayor, City of Reno
Nelson Aruajo, Former Nevada State Assemblyman
John Bailey, Managing Partner, Bailey Kennedy Attorney at Law
David Bobzien, Councilman, City of Reno
Bobbette Bond, Policy Director, Culinary Health Fund
Deisy Castro, DREAMer; Special Education Teacher, Elaine Wynn Elementary
Daniel Corona, Mayor, City of West Wendover
Robert L. “Bob” Crowell, Mayor, City of Carson City
Gerald Gardner, Former Chief Deputy Attorney General & Former Chief of Staff for Governor Brian Sandoval
Peter Guzman, President, Latin Chamber of Commerce
Asha Jones, Director of Government Affairs, Community College of Southern Nevada; Community Advocate
Karlos LaSane, Regional Vice President, Government Relations & Community Affairs, Caesars Entertainment Corporation
Duncan Lee, President, RDL Investments Inc.; Member of Las Vegas Asian Chamber of Commerce
Marlene Lockard, Former Chief of Staff, Governor Richard Bryan
Joseph Lombardo, Sheriff, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department
Kate Marshall, Lieutenant Governor-elect
Rusty McAllister, Executive Secretary-Treasurer, Nevada State AFL-CIO
Arlan Melendez, Chairman, Reno Sparks Indian Colony
Denice Miller, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs, MGM Resorts International
Thom Reilly, Chancellor, Nevada System of Higher Education
George Togliatti, Former Supervisory Special Agent, Federal Bureau of Investigation; Former Director, Nevada Department of Public Safety; Professor, UNLV
Stephanie Tyler, Nevada State President, AT&T
Dr. Tiffany Tyler, CEO, Communities in Schools of Nevada
Virginia Valentine, President & CEO, Nevada Resort Association
Mason Van Houweling, CEO, University Medical Center
Rita Vaswani, Vice President & Senior Relationship Manager, Nevada State Bank
Mario Walther, Director, Nevada Bighorns Unlimited
Jia Mei Wang, Branch Manager, CrossCountry Mortgage
Rich Williams, Business Representative, Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters
Public Employees Retirement System of Nevada (PERS)
Nevada’s Public Employees’ Retirement System Board met November 15, 2018, and set higher contribution rates for Active Employees effective July 1, 2019. For more information on the meeting, please click on the link posted here.
December 24, 2018 Ruling in NPRI vs NV PERS Case Upholds NV Supreme Court’s October Decision
Nevada’s Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) Board’s request for a re-hearing to deny the Nevada Policy Research Institute’s (NPRI) access to additional personal information from retirees in PERS has been denied.
The decision mirrored one made in October granting NPRI access to the following retiree information; names, salaries, dates of retirement, years of service and cost of living increases so they can publish all of it on TransparentNevada.com
NV PERS filed a petition in early November asking the court to re-hear the case, arguing that the October decision did not provide adequate guidance to public agencies when responding to public-records requests. This late December ruling sided with NPRI’s response to PERS’ latest effort to stop this process, which argued that a re-hearing was “neither appropriate nor necessary” because the petition failed to meet the requirements for a re-hearing.
RPEN has reached out to NV PERS to see what, if any other action is available to them now. Meanwhile, RPEN has on its’ legislative agenda for the 2019 session a reconsideration of Senate Bill 384 that was approved by both houses of the 2017 legislature only to be vetoed by Governor Sandoval once the session had ended. Our sponsor of the bill, Sparks State Senator Julia Ratti, has already agreed to reintroduce the bill at the next session that will begin February 4.
The most recent, but brief, two page decision can be viewed by clicking on the link below.
Supreme Court Rules in NPRI vs NV PERS Oct 18
It was heard seven months ago, and many were speculating that the Supreme Court wouldn’t issue a ruling in the “NPRI (Nevada Policy Research Institute) vs Nevada PERS” (Public Employees’ Retirement System) case until after the November 6 election. Well, that rumor was dispelled when the high court issued their decision October 18, 2018. It was a 4-3 decision with Justices Mark W. Gibbons, Michael Cherry, Kristina Pickering and Chief Justice Michael Douglas concurring on arguments presented by NPRI at the March 7 hearing in the case. A dissenting opinion was rendered by Lidia Stiglich, James Hardesty and Ron Parraguiree who were concerned about implications this ruling will have on Nevada’s Public Records Act, that could expose official state records otherwise declared confidential to agency search simply because they are stored in a computer. NPRI has been seeking five things from PERS as it relates to retired public employees: names, years of service credit, gross pension benefit amount, year of retirement and last employer, over and above what was originally sought by Reno Newspapers Inc. in 2011.
RPEN tried to solve the dilemma relating to what is and is not confidential information by seeking a legislative solution through Senate Bill 384 in 2017, sponsored by Senator Julia Ratti of Sparks. That bill passed in the Senate and Assembly but in the end was vetoed by Governor. Due to the 4-3 decision today, there is a possibility the bill could be resurrected at the 2019 Legislative Session now that this ruling has been issued. Senator Ratti has told RPEN she would be willing to re-introduce the measure. The success or failure of another legislative bill however will greatly depend upon the November 6 election and who becomes Nevada’s next Governor.
All of the important links to keep you informed of anything that can be going on within the retirement community.