Memphis announces $13.5M in unexpected health care costs - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis announces $13.5M in unexpected health care costs

(Source: WMC Action News 5) (Source: WMC Action News 5)

An audit is underway at Memphis City Hall after city leaders learned that employee health care would cost $13.5 million more than expected.

About half of the money would go toward medical coverage for a higher-than-expected number of retirees, most of whom say they're eligible for city benefits because they have no other access to health care.

"The problem here is these are people," said Fran Tripplett, who is married to a Memphis police officer. "Not a typo. Not an error. These are people's lives."

Council members are miffed with the city administration because of the unforeseen expenses.

"I was relying on the data that y'all were giving me," Councilman Shea Flinn said to city administrators.

As a concession for recent cuts, the administration kept retirees under the age of 65 on the city's medical plan through the end of 2015 in the event that they did not have access to another form of coverage.

However, when passing the cuts, the administration predicted less than 300 people would qualify for that coverage. In reality, more than 1,000 qualified.

Tripplett thinks those estimates weren't wrong by accident.

"It sounded better to say it was only going to affect 277 people, when in reality, it affected 1,100," she said.

"It's really troubling to me to come after the fact and hear all of these concerns," Councilwoman Wanda Halbert added.

Memphis Human Resources Director Quintin Robinson pushed back against allegations that the city intentionally misled the city council.

"It's not a blame game. We're in this together," Robinson said. "We're about to launch an audit to determine their [the retirees] eligibilities."

But, Tripplett isn't convinced.

"If you look back on their audits and how they run numbers, they're always wrong."

Robinson says the city found enough money to cover the $13.5 million in premiums in the event all 1,100 people claiming to need coverage indeed qualify.

Memphis City Council requested more clarification about what happened from the city administration. They will meet again in two weeks to iron out the wrinkles.

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