ATTENTION ALL SALARIED PENSIONERS
THE FOLLOWING IS AN URGENT MESSAGE FROM THE SSPO BOARD REGARDING THE TEMPORARY SUSPENSION OF HEALTH BENEFITS
UPDATE: March 10, 2017 (Note: For previous updates continue to scroll down the page)
March 9, 2017
The Transition Fund, established by the Province, will be winding down effective March 31, 2017. As a result, starting April 1, 2017, the same prescription drugs, emergency dental and other benefits currently available through the Transition Fund will be available through the Retiree Fund.
A Retiree Transition Fund has been set up as a result of a motion by Representative Counsel and the USW to reinstate health and dental benefits. The Superior Court of Justice (Commercial List) dismissed the motion on the condition that a fund be established with the company making a $2.7 million contribution.
The Retiree Fund extends the benefits currently available under the Transition Fund (established by the Province) to USSC retirees and their eligible beneficiaries who are resident in Canada but who reside outside of Ontario. The Retiree Fund also provides a one-time reimbursement of up to $100.00 to USSC retirees and their eligible beneficiaries for health services or supplies which were purchased after September 12, 2016 and which were not covered by the Transition Fund but would have been covered under the suspended USSC OPEB plan.
To apply for a reimbursement of out-of-province emergency dental and other health expense claims please complete the following form found HERE.
More information regarding the Retiree Fund and the wind up of the Transition Fund HERE.
NOTE: A copy of the Retirement Fund letter is being mailed out by Green Shield to all USSC OPEB Beneficiaries.
If you have any questions please contact Representative Counsel at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-866-777-6341.
UPDATE: February 19, 2017 (Note: For previous updates continue to scroll down the page)
New Retiree Fund (Effective February 1, 2017)
On August 17, 2016, the USW and the court-appointed Representative Counsel to the non-USW active and retired members brought a motion in court, asking Ontario Superior Court of Justice (Commercial List) (the “Court”) for an order requiring U.S. Steel Canada Inc. (“USSC”) to restore funding for health benefits for retirees (“OPEBs”). On August 19, 2016, the Court dismissed the motion on the condition that USSC make a one-time contribution of $2.7 million to the Transition Fund or to another fund to be administered on the same terms as the Transition Fund. USSC has made the $2.7 million one-time contribution and has set up a fund (the "Retiree Fund"). This Retiree Fund is separate from the Transition Fund established by the Government and is available on a first come first serve basis. Eligibility requirements and the procedure for filing a claim will be mailed to OPEB Beneficiaries.
The Retiree Fund, which will be administered by Green Shield Canada, will be used to:
· extend the benefits currently available under the Transition Fund to eligible retirees and their eligible spouses and beneficiaries (“OPEB Beneficiaries”) who are resident in Canada but who reside outside of Ontario; and
· provide a one-time reimbursement of up to $100.00 to OPEB Beneficiaries for health services or supplies which were purchased after September 12, 2016 and which were not covered by the Transition Fund but would have been covered under the suspended USSC OPEB plan, such as dental care, glasses, medical supplies, massage therapy, physiotherapy or orthotics.
Claims made to the Retiree Fund are on a first come-first serve basis. The Retiree Fund will continue until it is exhausted or certain events occur, such as the implementation of a court approved plan of arrangement with respect to USSC.
For complete details, access the following two links:
Click Here to view the Retiree Update
Click Here to view the Retiree Fund Memorandum
UPDATE: April 30, 2016 (Note: For previous updates continue to scroll down the page)
April 19, 2016. An update was mailed to eligible members regarding the status of the Transition Fund, including with respect to amounts being available after March 31, 2016. To view a copy of the update please click here.
As a result of the extension of the Transition Fund past March 31, 2016, Green Shield Canada has advised that affected members will be able to sign up to a private plan with no medical exam until June 30, 2016. For more information regarding private plans please call Green Shield directly at 1-888-711-1119.
UPDATE: March 16, 2016 (Note: For previous updates continue to scroll down the page)
As of March 14, 2016, the Transition Fund will cover repeats of 30-days supplies of prescription drugs until March 31, 2017, or until the fund runs out.
This means that once you have claimed 30 days’ worth of prescriptions you will have to wait a period of time before processing the next prescription. The next claim will be allowed when a plan member is 80 per cent of the way through their current claim (e.g., day 24 of a 30-day claim) and this will continue until March 31, 2017 or until the funds runs out.
Claims for more than a 30-day supply will be rejected. (E.g., if you claim for 90 days of prescriptions, the claim will be rejected. The pharmacy will have to resubmit for a 30-day supply and you will have to return once the wait period is done.)
The other provisions of the Transition Fund remain the same.
EXTREMELY IMPORTANT REMINDER
IF YOU HAVE NOT ALREADY PURCHASED AN INDIVIDUAL MEDICAL INSURANCE PLAN, AND STILL WISH EXERCISE YOUR 60 DAY NON-MEDICAL ASSESSMENT OPTION WITH GREEN SHEILD, YOU MUST DO SO PRIOR TO APRIL 29TH, 2016. UNLIKE THE CLAIMS PERIOD EXTENSION, THIS DEADLINE WILL NOT BE EXTENDED.
“What If I Want to Purchase an Individual Insurance Plan from Green Shield? Green Shield may permit you to enroll in any Green Shield product without requiring a medical assessment for up to 60 days after the Prescription Benefit portion of the Transition fund ends. Please note that if you would like to purchase individual insurance with a different carrier than Green Shield, you may have other deadlines to apply, some of which may have already passed”. (Source – Transition Fund Letter).
UPDATE: December 21, 2015 (Note: For previous updates, continue to scroll down the page)
TEMPORARY EMERGENCY MEDICAL TRANSITION FUNDING FOR QUALIFYING INDIVIDUALS
On December 17, 2015, the Province announced further details regarding the Ontario $3 million Transition Fund established by the province to assist former salaried and unionized employees of USSC. The Transition Fund is expected to be available as of January 1, 2016 and will consist of two parts:
Drug Benefit Coverage (Tranche 1) – up to $2.5 million will be available to pay for prescription medication costs, limited to a maximum 30 day supply of each prescription drug;Applicants will be able to submit claims for prescriptions directly to Green Shield following the same process used under the Suspended USSC OPEB Plan.
Emergency Coverage (Tranche 2) – up to $500,000 for urgently required dental and other health services. To apply for these funds please complete the following application forms:
Applicants for Emergency Coverage (Tranche 2) must complete both the Tranche 2 Application Form and one of the Green Shield Claim Forms (depending on what type of benefit coverage is being sought).
Please send the forms to the Monitor, Ernst & Young Inc., at the address provided on the Tranche 2 Application Form or Koskie Minsky LLP and we will forward it for you.
If you require any help in filling out the forms please contact us at 1-866-777-6341 or e-mail @ email@example.com.
Implementation of the Transition Fund, including the application forms, is still subject to the approval of the court, which is expected to occur on December 23, 2015. A copy of the motion material is available here.
Information regarding the Transition Fund will also be sent to affected members by mail following court approval.
If you have an urgent medical expense prior to January 1, 2016 please contact us at 1-866-777-6341 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
UPDATE: October 23, 2015 (Note: For previous updates, continue to scroll down the page)
the Transition Fund and Emergency Access to Assistance
Due to the Suspension of Post-Retirement Benefit Coverage --- (Issued Oct 21)
The Province announced that it will provide a total of $3 million to establish a Transition Fund available over the next six months to assist USSC retirees and eligible beneficiaries to transition from the post-retirement health benefit coverage formerly available from US Steel Canada.
In addition, representatives of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care (MOHLTC) are working with representatives of the union and salaried pensioners to hold information sessions that are intended to assist pensioners under age 65 to apply for the Trillium Drug Program. MOHLTC representatives will also be able to answer questions about the Ontario Drug Benefit Program for those over age 65 and any special applications that may be required for coverage by either provincial drug program for certain medications. Several sessions have already been organized with the USW. For the time and location of further sessions, please check the websites of your USW Local or of Koskie Minsky LLP at http://kmlaw.ca/cases/usscrepcounsel/.
The criteria for eligibility for funding from the Transition Fund, and the process to access the Transition Fund have not yet been determined. Further information about the Transition Fund and the process to access it will be provided as it becomes available.
In the interim, while the eligibility criteria and process are being determined, if you have an urgent and serious need for a benefit formerly provided through the post-retirement benefit program of USSC that you cannot otherwise obtain:
For pensioners who were members of the USW, call your Union Local at:
1. Local 1005:
(905)547-1417 ext. 4
(905)547-1417 ext. 3
2. Local 8782:
519-587-2000 ext. 225
3. Mark Talbot
519-587-2000 ext. 301
For pensioners who were not members of the USW, call Koskie Minsky your court appointed Representative Counsel at 1-866-777-6341 or email: email@example.com.
What does The Trillium Drug Plan Cover?
The TDP helps people who have high prescription drug costs relative to their household income. It covers all drugs approved under the Ontario Drug Benefit (ODB) program. For drug products that are not on the list of approved ODB products, your doctor may apply for special approval through the Exceptional Access Program (EAP). Assistance is available for persons of all ages. If you feel you may qualify for assistance, follow this link for complete details: The Trillium Drug Program (TDP)
Special Offer of Assistance from Concession Medical Pharmacy
With the suspension of our benefit plan Concession Medical Pharmacy has generously arranged to assist all USSC (formerly Stelco) retirees with their prescription needs, by offering the following:
Call them at 905-387-7125 toll free at 1-844-832-9102, or go and see them at 444 Concession St, Hamilton ON L9A 1C2 (blue awnings on the south side of Concession Street at East 18th Street) www.concessionmedical.ca
The SSPO Board suggests that it may be also be advantageous for you to review your personal situation with your present pharmacist, and ask what comparable assistance and/or relief they may be willing to provide to you.
Additional Special Offer of Assistance from Concession Medical Hearing:
A DIVISION OF CONCESSION MEDICAL PHARMACY
438 Concession Street, Hamilton ON (located next to Canadian Medical Pharmacy)
With the suspension of our Health Benefit Plan, we are pleased to offer the following free services and special pricing to the USSC (formerly Stelco) employees and their families:
a) Reduced pricing for Hearing aid(s)
b) 50% off our dispensing fee (See note below)
c) Free hearing aid cleaning and servicing, including a free package of batteries with the visit.
d) Free assistance to access government funding (Assistive Devices Program).
Concession Medical Hearing is an authorized vendor with Ontario Works, ODSP, WSIB and Department of Veterans Affairs.
(For clarification purposes: ”50% off our dispensing fee” applies to certain services (not dispensing fees for prescribed drugs) provided by Concession Medical Hearing.
Update – October 15, 2015
Inquiries were made on behalf of USSC Retirees with Green Shield in regards to the availability of private Health Benefits coverage to be paid for entirely by retirees, on an individual basis for retirees and their dependents during the OPEB suspension period.
Below is the Green Shield response. Please be advised, this information and the arrangements quoted below are not connected or related to any transitional funding to be provided by the Provincial Government but are an offer through SBIS in partnership with Green Shield at the retiree’s own cost. The nature of Provincial assistance announced by the Minister of Finance on October 9, has yet to be announced.
For those individuals wishing to investigate alternate Health Benefits coverage during the temporary suspension period, SSPO suggests they obtain quotations from three different providers, to ensure best pricing with respect to your individual requirements. At this juncture, it is unclear to us as to why Green Shield offers plans/quotes under their own banner at the Green Shield Website (mentioned in our October 10 posting), and yet suggests individuals contact Special Benefits Insurance Services (SIBS).
We will continue to provide further updates as information becomes available:
“Concerning your Health and Dental Benefits, Green Shield Canada in partnership with Special Benefits Insurance Services has a number of Individual Health and Dental programs available to hopefully meet your Individual and Family needs. Please visit our web site www.sbis.ca for more information or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org to request an information package by email or by mail. If by mail, be sure to include your full mailing address and postal code. If you would like to contact us by phone, please call 1-800-667-0429, remember that there are some 20,000 of you and although we will do our best to answer all of your calls personally, based on the volume of calls there may be some additional wait time. Your patience is appreciated and we will do our best to assist you.”
Please Note: We/You are awaiting notification from USSC with respect to the October 10th cut-off date for Health Benefits coverage, and verification of October 31st as being the final date for filing a claim for benefit related services performed prior to the cut-off date. The dates provided herein are based on the court order. If you have a qualifying claim to submit, we suggest you do it immediately and without delay, before the October 31st deadline.
SSPO Board of Directors
Posted October 10, 2015
On October 9, 2015, U. S. Steel Canada was granted approval by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, The Honorable Mr. Justice Wilton-Siegel presiding, to invoke an immediate “temporary” suspension of Health Benefits for all USSC Pensioners.
Prior to the ruling, Representative Counsel negotiated with USSC for two concessions: (1) that USSC continue to pay retiree life insurance premiums so that life insurance remains in place, since these benefits could not be reinstated if the group life insurance policy lapses; and (2) that the suspension of all other benefits is a temporary suspension, subject to further order of the Court, and is not to be construed as a termination.
Please be assured your regular pension payments will not change and you will continue to receive your monthly pension amount as per normal (excludes supplementary pension payments to beneficiaries pursuant to the unfunded individual retirement benefit contracts and individual retiring allowances….these have been temporarily suspended).
Your Group Life Insurance remains in effect.
Your Representatives, Representative Council, and the SSPO Board are exploring options for Pensioners to acquire alternate Health Benefits Insurance during the suspension period, and will report back to you as soon as possible.
One option that may be available is provided through the Canadian Association of Retired Persons ("CARP"). To view their medical benefit options for retirees, please click this link.
Another option may be available through Green Shield Canada. To view their medical benefit options please click here.
Also on October 9, 2015, following the release of the CCAA Judge's decision, the Government of Ontario announced financial assistance for USSC retirees due to the suspension of their health benefits by USSC. To view the Government's announcement, please click here. We will report further on the Government's assistance program shortly.
Click here to visit the Koskie Minsky web site for further detailed backgrounder information with respect to the USSC CCAA proceedings.
SSPO Board of Directors