Retired officers question insurance changes made by Tyrone Borough

Retired Tyrone police officers George Sessaman, Dennis Borman and Jim Lego were surprised when they received a certified letter from the Borough of Tyrone. Retired chief Tom Cooper received the letter as well.
The letter to the former officers states, “the current police collective bargaining agreement provides that medical and prescription coverage be provided through the Borough’s current group health plan with the Geisinger Health Plan (GHP). This letter will serve as your notice that as of May 1, 2003, your current medical/prescription coverage through Municipal Employers Insurance Trust (MEIT) will cease, and that as of May 1, your medical/prescription coverage will be provided through GHP.”
Under the new collective bargaining agreement between the police and the borough, the contract states the medical/hospital and prescription drug coverages iniatially will be provided through the borough’s group health plan with the Geisenger Health Plan (GHP) and the vision plan and dental coverage initially will be provided through the borough’s group plan with Municipal Employers Insurance Trust.
Also, as part of the new agreement between the borough and the police, officers Greg Ray and Tom Goodfellow received one-time payments of $10,000 as a buy out and full release of any and all claims for any post-retirement and/or post employment health care coverages or benefits.
Sessaman, Borman and Lego said the first contact they had received from the borough was when they received from the letter.
“This was not the insurance coverage that I selected under the contract in which I served and retired under,” said former interim police chief George Sessaman. “This plan would cost me more with prescriptions, I would have to co-pay doctor visits. This was not something that we were even asked to switch to. I received a letter and was expected to sign.”
According to the previous police contract that was provided to The Daily Herald by the former officers, it states under Article 18 Section 1: “The Borough shall maintain a program of hospitalization insurance for all full-time police officers including major medical coverage and said program shall be prevailing fee Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plan 100 U Program or a comparable plan selected by the individual.”
In Section 4, the contract states, “the Borough shall continue to provide each full-time police officer after retirement the Blue Cross/Blue Shield hospitalization and major medical plan in place at the time of their retirement or a comparable plan selected by the individual. This coverage shall continue until said officer reaches age 65. This shall be a continuous benefit until age 65.”
“The contract that I retired under says in black and white Blue Cross/Blue Shield or the comparable plan selected by the individual,” said Sessaman. “I didn’t choose to switch providers.”
Former officer Jim Lego said the borough is violating its contract.
“They are in breech,” said Lego. “We either have to convince the borough that what they are doing is wrong or we will have to take legal action. We had to go through binding arbitration to get that contract. I don’t know what the borough is thinking. Things can never run smooth when the borough is involved. We will take whatever action is necessary.”
Borman was also not pleased when he read the letter.
“I still haven’t received mine yet, but I read the letter that Jim received,” said Borman. “We should receive the insurance of our choice until the age of 65 like the contract states. There could have been a courtesy toward us and the borough could have asked for a meeting to ask us if we would be willing to switch. We get notified by certified letter. The current officers got paid to switch coverage. We just get a letter.”
The letter is signed by Tyrone Borough Director of Adminstration Phyllis Garhart.
“The last sentence of the letter we received said if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me,” said Sessaman. “I called and told Phyllis that this wasn’t what we agreed to. Her answer was ‘so’. I contacted Greg Ray (union representative) and he said he would check on the matter. I don’t see anywhere in the new contract where it states that the insurance changes would affect retired officers.”
The Daily Herald contacted Garhart, who deferred comment to the borough’s legal team.
Assistant borough solicitor Lee Oswalt, as of press time, did not respond to calls from The Daily Herald. Attempts were also made to reach Greg Ray and Pat Crawford of the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board, but as of press time both Ray and Crawford were unavailable for comment.