I am glad many of you read my articles! I hear back regularly from those who comment, but this past month was pretty good! I am going to take this month to remind you to get off your arses and make sure your preventive medical issues are addressed. I just had surgery for melanoma, and it is a scary thing. When I was young, sun exposure wasn’t really a concern. I never wore a hat on duty (Smokey hats didn’t go with Class B heat uniform), and I rarely used sunscreen. To the Department today, I would say explore some actual functional uniforms that can cover yet stay cool. Wicking shirts, even long-sleeved, can be extremely more comfortable than what we have. Explore better headgear, etc. Make sure radio cars have UV protection on all windows. And to our personnel, I would say, “Watch it!” Especially if you are fair-skinned.
Now that you are all going to go to your dermatologists to get checked (mine just saved my life, I think), the next call you need to make is to schedule your colonoscopy! Get it done. Death from colorectal cancer is almost 100% preventable with regular screenings, and I have known people who blew it off and are now dead. The procedure is no big deal. I have had a half-dozen (pretty sure my next is free on the punch card). But there is no reason other than “I don’t like the cleanse” to get it done. Do it for your family.
OK, (almost) final thoughts: exercise and diet. As we age, it gets tougher. But you have to move — even a morning walk or something to get your heart pumping. Swim, bike, walk … move. When I graduated from the Academy I was, like all of us, in great shape. For a while lately, I looked like I ate the guy that I was! It’s hard work, but I have made a dent now on my way back down.
I read the “End of Watch” tributes (see page 23) compiled by PPOA staff member Greg Torres each month, and it makes me sad to see when people go too early for preventable reasons. We can never hide from every bus that may run us over, but we can try to at least look both ways and prevent stepping in front of one. I care about all of you, and I really hope you encourage any relatives or friends on the Department to get those preventative checks with a doctor, try to stay active and stick with the single scoop of ice cream!
UPDATE ON BLUE CROSS MILLION-DOLLAR CAP
Spoiler alert: There is no change yet. LACERA put together a presentation for County unions a year or so ago, and it met with a less-than-stellar reply. It appears unions that represent current employees haven’t showed much interest in fixing the problem, as it is a “retiree concern” (I’m guessing?). That is hugely shortsighted, in my humble opinion. This is a countywide issue and all active and retired personnel should be concerned. I am told RELAC (Retired Employees of Los Angeles County) has this at the top of its radar and is aware of the problem. So, LACERA knows, RELAC knows and the County continues to shut the door in our faces. What is next? It’s been what, more than two decades since the cap was lifted? How much have medical costs gone up in that time?
Here is some interesting data: According to WorldData, $1,000,000 in the year 2000 has a value (purchasing power) today of $557,703. It has lost 44.23% in that time. And that is just based on inflation. Now, the cost of medical care, according to HealthSystemTracker, has increased 114% in that same time! So, it makes sense to me (a layman at best) that the cap should be eliminated completely to keep pace with medical inflation costs. I was hoping the Board of Supervisors would pay attention to this, but again, deaf ears. The County has saved millions on the health care Tier 2, which cut out the spouses in retiree medical, and it has and continues to make millions on the Public Employee Pension Reform Act (PEPRA) changes, which reduced its overall pension cost by many, many millions per year going forward. It’s actually sad that the Board of Supervisors has cashed in so much on the backs of employees. And I hear we need to watch out because Tier 3 medical is just around the corner! You can bet they will be offering a change when it benefits them in the long run. If I were king, I would lift the cap completely on all legacy members and bring back coverage for our spouses that was lost in the terrible agreement that was called Tier 2, so the County lives up to its promise (and contractual obligation?) to provide medical care in our retirement. But, alas, I am not king. (Is there an election for that? I have time!)
Remember to review your medical plans each year at renewal and see what is best for you, keep your beneficiary up to date on any insurance, and learn to use a computer but never answer emails from a lost uncle in a faraway land who promises you wealth. Oh, and enjoy life every day. Until next month, be well.