Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ryan Holderman to Sandy Knoesel: What plans does STRS have to assist those affected by MM decision?

From Ryan Holderman, November 18, 2009
Subject: Alarmed in southwestern Ohio!
Dear Ms. Knoesel:
I was alarmed to read the article copied below in this morning's "Dayton Daily News". This change will have major impact on retirees living in Butler and Warren counties for whom Atrium Medical Center is the hospital of choice. It is a new hospital built and opened in 2007 to replace Middletown Regional Hospital. By eliminating it as a choice for the retirees who are under 65 or who are not eligible for Medicare Parts A & B, those folks will be forced to travel to either Cincinnati or Dayton when they need hospital services. The other hospitals listed, Miami Valley and Good Samaritan Hospitals are two of the major medical facilities in the Dayton area so that further restricts retirees' choices.
Many of the doctors in this area practice out of Atrium Medical Center. It makes little sense to have a doctor who cannot also treat his patient when they need hospitalization simply because that patient is covered by Medical Mutual. This change will force retirees to leave local doctors that they have seen for many years and find new ones who are affiliated with hospitals that will accept Medical Mutual insurance.
This change will also impact the families of retirees not only because they, if covered by Medical Mutual, will have to find new hospitals, but also because they will have to travel further to get to new hospitals and visit loved ones who may be inpatients. The prospect of having to travel into Cincinnati or Dayton is daunting to many of them.
I was also surprised to read that Ms. Ecklar couldn't say how many STRS retirees would be affected by this change. OPERS seems to have a better handle on the situation. I would think that STRS, with all its resources, could be better informed.
Many STRS retirees are facing changes in their health care insurance because STRS has dropped Aetna as a provider beginning January 1st. A forced move to Medical Mutual was distasteful enough it is only compounded by having to deal with this elimination of services.
It seems to me that the contract STRS negotiated with Medical Mutual should have included safeguards against this type action. What plans does STRS have to assist those of us who are impacted by this decision?
Ryan L. Holderman
Larry KehresMount Union Collge
Division III
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