CA Grand Jury Warns of Pending Retiree Health Cost Crisis

June 13, 2007 ( - A grand jury report has warned that supervisors in Contra Costa, California are playing with fire by not properly funding retiree health care costs.

In fact, the report asserted that local su pervisors are “mortgaging the county’s future” by only setting aside minimal retiree health care funding, the Contra Costa Times reported.

Supervisors “will surely be asked to explain to the taxpayers and those dependent on county services why the cost of local government continues to escalate while the level of services provided declines,” the report said.

The report concluded that the county will have to deal with a $2.6-billion retiree health care bill in coming decades that is predicted to expand by $200 million with each year of inaction.

To prevent future cuts, the report said, Supervisors must set aside millions more for the health care liability, negotiate benefit changes and require eligible retirees to sign up for Medicare.

In April, supervisors approved spending $33 million to cover this year’s retiree medical costs. But that significantly lags the $227 million that a county consultant recommended be earmarked to close the health care gap in the coming decades.

The grand jury report is    here .