Meds for retired NJ cop with ALS faces could top $30,000 a month
BYRAM — A retired police detective dealing with ALS is faced with a critically expensive issue after the township's negotiated change in medical insurance.
Joseph "Todd" Duffy retired from the township police department in 2012 after a law enforcement career that included years as a DARE officer in the community's schools.
Duffy was diagnosed four years later with the progressive neurodegenerative illness, according to fellow officers.
As reported by the New Jersey Herald, Duffy's family now is faced with paying for medication that costs $30,000 a month out of pocket, under a recent change to the township's healthcare plan for public workers.
Mayor Alex Rubenstein said Wednesday that the healthcare change was made only after negotiations with each union, including PBA Local 138 itself.
Rubenstein said the township is in support of fundraising efforts for Duffy, such as a GoFundMe page setup by the PBA, which had raised more than $16,000 as of Wednesday night.
The mayor said that the PBA had always been supportive of the switch to the N.J. State Healthcare Benefits Plan.
In a written statement dated Jan. 8., Rubenstein said the Township Council decided over the course of negotiations that "if there were any issues arising with the retirees as a result of moving to the NJ SHBP, we would deal with them as they came to us."
The town's new labor contracts were ratified on Feb. 19, 2019, starting the transition to the NJSHBP, Rubenstein said, at which point all employees and retirees were contacted via certified mail and a benefit consultant was appointed.
The healthcare plan transition was completed on June 1, 2019, and two days later the township was presented with a grievance filed by the PBA on behalf of retirees, saying they were not receiving what they are entitled to in terms of coverage.
According to the mayor's written statement, the township never denied that four retirees may have a valid claim.
A mediation session on the issue is set for Thursday.
Without getting into specific details, citing privacy of healthcare matters, the mayor also said the town has "spent countless hours" assisting one retiree and their family.
In addition to the GoFundMe page, PBA Local 138 also is using proceeds from its annual steak dinner, Feb. 15, to benefit the Duffy family. Tickets are being sold for the event in advance.
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