For immedate release:
October 19, 2022
RISE Delaware Wins Stay of Medicare Advantage Plan
The Delaware Superior Court, the Hon. Calvin Scott, today issued an interim Order in favor of Plaintiffs in the lawsuit against State of Delaware officials brought by RISE Delaware, an advocacy group for retirees of the State of Delaware, and two individuals.
The lawsuit asks to stop Delaware’s implementation of its improperly adopted HighMark Medicare Advantage Plan to replace the long-standing traditional Medicare benefit earned by state retirees.
Based on the record that State officials failed to follow basic open government laws, the Court has stayed implementation of the Medicare Advantage plan, including by way of automatic enrollment, pending a final trial on the merits.
The Court ordered also that, “During the stay, Defendants shall take all necessary and proper steps to ensure that the healthcare insurance and benefits available to State retirees prior to October 3, 2022, or in which they were enrolled prior to that time, remain in full force and effect.”
RISE is grateful for the Court’s decision — as RISE President Lisa Diller says, “We are relieved and thrilled that the new Medicare Advantage plan is stayed. This is justice for the retirees who worked for these benefits, who were promised these benefits, and who believed that together, we could fight back.”
“I took no pleasure in having to sue state officials with whom I worked for many years,” said plaintiff, retired state senator Karen Peterson. “But retirees are entitled to the medical coverage they were promised during their years of working for the state, and somebody had to fight back.”
According to RISE’s legal liaison, Mary Graham, “This interim ruling in practical effect means that 30,000 elderly retirees should not be forced in 2023 to go to a dangerous Medicare Advantage plan where an insurance company decides what is ‘medically necessary,’ and puts them through a wringer of doctor network restrictions and some 2000 prior authorizations that delay and deny care. The State should have to go through a proper government process with transparency and citizen participation in the selection of a Medicare plan.”
Plaintiff Tom Penoza adds, “I am gratified that the Court saw the urgency of addressing this wrong and recognized the important rights of pensioners at risk. Through our careers we provided outstanding service to Delaware. We deserve to have the agreement we made for our vital healthcare needs honored as we honored our commitment to serve the community.”
The Plaintiffs are represented by Sara Haviva Mark (argued) and Steve Cohen of Pollock Cohen in NYC, Jake Gardener of Walden Macht & Haran in NYC, and David Felice of Bailey Glasser in NYC.
Retirees Investing in Social Equity Delaware