"Global professional services firm" Towers Perrin recently released the results [ed: enough with the alliteration, already!] of a national survey of HR critters. The focus of the study was the impact Medicare Part D (allegedly for "Drugs," but more appropriately for "debacle") on retiree medical benefits, and how companies plan to address these issues in the coming year.
The introduction of Medicare D (for short) opened up some new options for companies with large numbers of covered retirees (e.g. GM, etc), and this could be seen as either a positive or a negative. From the retirees' perspective, such options are more likely to engender fear of the unknown: what changes will be made, and at what cost to the beneficaries?
A bit more than half of those surveyed indicated that they would "stay the course" (for now, at least), and make no drastic changes this year. More than three quarters, though, indicated problems with the RDS (retiree drug subsidy). The RDS is a gummint-sponsored (paid) program that reimburses eligible employers. For more information on the program, click here.
I'm not a big fan of either program; since employers don't pay taxes, it seems illogical for them to collect such subsidies. Of course, nobody asked me.