Chancellor Dannel Malloy answers questions at a forum about unified accreditation in this 2019 file photo. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

PORTLAND, Maine — The University of Maine System has announced a projected $2.5 million in savings per year through a change in health insurance for retired employees that will expand coverage and add flexibility.

Former employees and lawmakers have raised concerns about the proposed changes that were planned without input from retirees or unions, the Portland Press Herald reported.

System Chancellor Dannel Malloy said Wednesday in a letter to state lawmakers that the change from a group benefits plan to a Medicare exchange will not result in retirees or their spouses losing coverage.

“The actions we are taking will greatly expand the benefits available to our retirees even as they permit UMS to manage its limited public resources more efficiently,” Malloy said. “We are fully committed to our retirees and will simply not allow this transition to result in any retiree losing supplemental coverage.”

Under the new system, retirees will have to file for reimbursement after paying upfront for medical expenses.

“Everyone knew immediately what this really meant,” said Nancy Gish, a retired English professor. “In the five years since I’ve retired I’ve never had to pay up front and then try to get someone on the phone to reimburse me. As other people have pointed out, most faculty don’t have that kind of savings and money.”

More than 60 lawmakers sent a letter to the chancellor asking for the system to reconsider its decision.