We have continued to take depositions of County employees. We have recently deposed Steve Cady, Matt Hanchek and Rick Ceschin, all of whom were involved in the process of adding co-pays, deductibles and co-insurance to the retirees’ insurance requirements. Each of these men were involved in formulating the policies that emanated from the County Executive’s recent budgets and which were ultimately adopted by the County Board with some slight modifications. We have also sought to take the deposition of one County supervisor, Jim “Luigi” Schmitt to which the County has objected, citing some type of legislative immunity. Of course, even Bill Clinton sat for a deposition during his Presidency so complete immunity for a Milwaukee County supervisor seems a stretch. We are in the process of filing briefs regarding this issue.
The County has admitted it promised premium free health insurance for retirees and the County has done so since at least 1971. It appears starting in 2006 the County started exacting co-pays and deductibles, claiming it has still made good on its promise of premium free insurance. In 2012 the County made a huge increase by exacting “co-insurance” by modifying the retiree benefit for Medicare recipients. Yet, at least two of the deponents have admitted the exacting of co-pays, deductibles and co-insurance was meant to shift health care costs on to the retirees while maintaining insurance without a premium–as was promised. One witness testified that the cost shifting was an indirect premium–though not using those precise words. Another said the ordinances allowed cost shifting, from what was essentially guaranteed contribution free health insurance. I expect one more round of depositions followed by the filing of summary judgment motions. BTW, how is payment of “co-insurance” not deemed to be a premium payment?