Saturday, April 18, 2009

Colonial Pipeline announces plans to deny medical insurance to retirees

ALPHARETTA, Ga. - According to an April 16 letter from new Colonial Pipeline Co. President and CEO Tim Felt, the company will cease offering medical, dental, prescription and vision coverage to retirees on Dec. 31, 2009.
Felt said the decision applies to current retirees and to active employees who retire from Colonial in the future.
Medicare provides the bulk of the medical coverage for Colonial retirees and spouses who are eligible.
Colonial currently provides a supplement to retirees who are eligible for Medicare coverage. The supplement is designed to cover part of the cost of supplemental health and prescription drug coverage provided by carriers such as AARP. The supplement amounts to about $3,000 per year for a retired employee and spouse who are eligible for Medicare coverage.
Felt said in the letter that further details on the company’s plan will be provided in June.
During the course of their careers, most Colonial retirees were exposed to harmful toxins including tetraethyl lead, arsenic, selenium and radioactive materials. Employees encounter toxin and carcinogen exposure both during routine job performance at injection sites, pump stations and delivery points, and when required to respond to spills.
The 1990s were particularly dangerous times, with some of the company’s largest spills occurring as Colonial’s basic system, built in the 1960s, deteriorated with age. Colonial pleaded guilty to criminal charges as a result of the 1990s spills.
Colonial is taking the action despite tax credits enacted in the Bush administration in 2002 that benefit employers who provide medical plan coverage to retirees.
The Colonial decision is expected to impact most severely on surviving spouses of deceased retirees.
Colonial's revenues and income after taxes for 2008, as reported in the company's FERC Form 6, had not, as of April 20, been posted on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's Web site. However, for 2007, Colonial reported revenues of $796.1 million, and after-tax income distributable to its six oil industry owners of $222.0 million.

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