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At the Board of Supervisors' meeting on Tuesday, July 23, 2014, items 35 and 37, the new Health Plan Rates, were approved on a 5-0 vote by the Board members.  Although the majority of plans will have increased rates for 2015, there are some plans with decreased rates.

The rates for 2015 no longer have a positive impact due to special funding applied to the rates for the year 2014 only.  These special funds, known as Early Retiree Reinsurance Program (ERRP), consisted of a short-term federal reimbursement program, authorized as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) to encourage employers to continue to provide insurance coverage to “early retirees” (ages 55 – 64) who were not eligible for Medicare. The County of Orange received $2.4 million in ERRP funds for Retiree Insured Health Plans. These funds were generated as reimbursement for actual medical and pharmacy services incurred by County early retirees in these plans and were used as required by law by December 31, 2014. 
Please click on the links below for the charts provided by the County for the 2015 Health Plan rates:

Operation Santa Claus Needs Your Help
Operation Santa Claus is currently facing a dire shortage of toys, especially gifts for toddlers and girls. The Board of Supervisors has invited all County employees to join in brightening the lives of some of Orange County’s most vulnerable residents by purchasing a toy for Operation Santa Claus’ Mid-year Toy Drive.
Over the past 52 years, County of Orange employees and community volunteers have generously supported and provided toys and gifts to Operation Santa Claus. Last year, 42,000 toys, stuffed animals and books were distributed to children in Orange County. In addition to the holiday season, gifts are distributed throughout the year for foster children’s birthdays and to help children get through times of despair due to abuse and neglect.
To the County’s many loyal supporters, Operation Santa Claus says, “Thank you!” To others who might wonder, “What difference does a gift make?” the answer is “Hope” for the children and others in need.
New, unwrapped toys, gift cards and checks are all appreciated to ensure Orange County’s most vulnerable children, teens and low-income families are not forgotten.We are desperately in need of toddler & girl toys but appreciate all gifts!  Here are a few suggestions:

Toddler:  Musical, alphabet & counting interactive toys
Girls: Dolls, kitchen bake sets, educational, sporting goods
Boys: Trains, Lego, educational, sporting goods
Teens: Watches, cologne sets, make-up, flat irons, dryers.
NOTE:  Gift cards are great for all ages
Are you too busy to shop?  Donate online at:
For more information and to find out how you can deliver/send your donation, contact Mona Gustafson at mona.gustafson@ssa.ocgov.com.
News, week of August 24, 2014

Lompoc Newspaper asks:  Should-dealing-with-the-public-be-considered-hazardous-duty?

Citing the recent decision of the CaPERS Board to approve 99 forms of employee pay to be pensionable, the newspaper has reviewed these 99 and concluded that public sector employees appear to be getting extra pay for what any rational person would consider to be part of their duties. (More)

The Oakland Tribune says Governor Brown cynically undermines his own pension reform law

The article says that because the Governor objected to only 1 of the 99 forms of employee pay the CalPERS Board recently determined to be pensionable, the Governor has given “tacit consent” to the other 98 The article also says that apparently no one bothered to calculate the cost of adding the 99 pay items.(More)
On-line non-profit Pension 360 news source reports that credit rating agency says CalPERS decision will increase pension liabilities and costs

This news source reports the following partial statement from Fitch:   The expanded definition of pensionable compensation exposes public employers to higher pension liabilities and contribution expenses, and appears to be a step backward from recent reforms. The Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act of 2013 (PEPRA) narrowed the definition of pensionable compensation for public employees in an effort to address “pension spiking,” the inflation of base pay for purposes of pension benefit calculations. This decision expands the definition of pensionable compensation, in apparent conflict with PEPRA, and will increase pension costs for public employers if implemented.The magnitude of impact from this decision is not yet clear, but it raises more questions about the sustainability of California’s pension reform efforts, which continue to face legal and institutional challenges.Particularly worrisome to Fitch is the absence of detailed information on the analysis of its projected costs.(More)
There they (CalPERS) go again

This Fox and Hounds web article says the CalPERS Board ignored the Governor and legislature when it recently vote to “spike” pension benefits by categorizing 99 pay components as compensation.  It says the State’s elected leaders and taxpayers must not accept this CalPERS action. (More)
City of Villa Park explores pulling out of CalPERS
Officials in Villa Park are considering pulling the tiny California city from Calpers, saying the monthly costs of the state's giant public pension system are crippling the municipal budget.  But Villa Park fears that pulling out of its contract with the California Public Employees' Retirement System could be prohibitively expensive because of a termination fee that could exceed the city's annual budget. (More)
Guest Commentary:  Scapegoating on pensions doesn’t fix California’s retirement-security crisis
Ventura County citizens scored a victory earlier this month when a Superior Court Judge affirmed that any changes to the county pension plan must be made through the collective bargaining process — not at the ballot box. Actuarial analyses showed that closing the existing retirement plans and forcing new employees into risky 401(k) style plans would increase immediate costs to taxpayers, while forcing new employees to put their retirement security at risk in the hands of Wall Street.  The ruling reaffirms what public employees have been saying for years — there are existing mechanisms in place to make changes to public retirement funds. The place to do it as at the bargaining table, not by demagoguing public employees in a political campaign. ------------ Who would you rather have in charge of your retirement portfolio, CalPERS or the Wall Street bankers who raked in billions in fees while creating the financial crisis? (More)
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