Some SRS retirees still angered by health care cuts, confused by new system

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Tuesday, April 23, 2013

CLEARWATER, S.C. (WRDW) -- The anger is still there for some Savannah River Site SRNS retirees.

"It was handled terribly. It was just terrible," Peggy Garvin said.

"I don't know anybody that's satisfied. I would say everybody feels that we have just been crapped on," added John Church. "We did so much that enabled Reagan to stop the Cold War. That was done here!"

Last year, it became official. Retirees over 65 were forced off the site benefits plan and had to buy commercial health insurance with a stipend. For many under 65, premiums increased. That transition has been tough for many, including former nuclear physicist Church.

"We were promised free health care for life and that's clearly not the case now," he said.

Graphic artist and illustrator Garvin, who was laid off from the site, is upset too.

"I'm sure that as I get older, the premiums are going to continue to go up, and right now, I don't have any out-of-pocket, but I also don't have as good of coverage," she said.

That was the topic of concern on Tuesday at the SRS Retiree Association's annual meeting. Many complained of confusing paperwork, clogged phone lines, pricey prescriptions and some have even lost plans like dental.

However, for many of the older men and women, the whole transition is just mind-boggling.

"We know we've had bumps with WageWorks," said Kelly Sanders, the SRNS benefits manager. "It is getting better. I see it getting better."

However, even though Garvin's tech savvy by trade, she fears for others.

"What about the people who still have a rotary dial phone who don't have computers? They don't have Internet. They don't have any of this stuff," she said.

News 12 also talked to Retiree Association Chairman John Plodinec. He says there's a sizable group of retirees who still haven't received any reimbursements, but he says of those who have, about 90 percent have come out OK.

He says mainly, the old, the sick and the poor, and people who don't have much of a pension are hurting. He says those people are paying thousands out-of-pocket for drugs.

However, he says his organization's focus will be helping those people maximize their stipends and tackling the confusing paperwork for them too.

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