How Oakland Can Help Itself

Dear Legislators,

Re yesterday’s post, some readers asked what Oakland should do. Maybe an analogy would help.

Say that Oakland has been paying 100% of the cost to repair its roads and the federal and state governments launch programs to provide 90% of the cost of city road-repairing. Should Oakland continue to pay 100% of the cost to repair its roads? Of course not. Providing health insurance for retired Oakland employees is no different. Via the Affordable Care Act and California State Subsidy, big federal and state insurance subsidies are now available. As a result (and at a minimum*), Oakland should require retired employees and eligible dependents to exhaust federal and state subsidies before invading the city budget for additional subsidies. CoveredCA makes doing so as easy as pie.

Oakland — and BART, SF, LAUSD and the hundreds of other California agencies that still pay 100% of retiree healthcare despite the enactment of the ACA in 2010 and the CSP in 2019 — should do this ASAP.

*Oakland should also prohibit insurance for retirees who have other employment that offers insurance and (though we think Medicare and CoveredCa are sufficient) cap subsidies provided by the city at (say) $2,400 per year for pre-Medicare retirees and $1,000 per year for retirees eligible for Medicare.