VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A former Virginia Beach Police officer forced to retire with a disability is fighting the Commonwealth of Virginia to get his 11-year-old son back on his Line of Duty Act Health Benefits Plan.
That plan is set up for police and fire disabled retirees, or families of those who have died in the line of duty.
On July 1, the state kicked Mike Carey’s son from the plan because the state says he wasn’t eligible to receive the benefits, after he had been on it for his entire life when it was administered by the City of Virginia Beach.
Sadly, the joy of the season is missing in Mike Carey’s home, “It’s devastating to our family to be honest with you,” Carey says in his Virginia Beach home.
Carey first received word of the change in May, when the Commonwealth of Virginia wrote him, saying Mikey “is not eligible for the LODA (Line of Duty Act) Health Benefits premium-free coverage and will not be enrolled.”
He told us, “When I read that I almost passed out. I just thought how could that be? I have a family plan, they’ve covered him for the last 10 and a half years of his life, then it’s gone, and now they are kicking this little guy to the curb.”
Carey has a Blue Star, which shows he was injured in the line of duty. He was later forced to retire in 2004 with a disability. He didn’t want to retire as the public information officer with the Virginia Beach Police Department, but he was forced to.
Two years later in 2006, his son was born, and he went to the city. The city added the son immediately to Carey’s family plan insurance, no questions asked.
“I put my life on the line for many years. I have family coverage, and I was told that would continue. I would have that for my lifetime… and that’s what I was told by the city.”
Then the state took over the benefits plan and wrote Carey, “The records received from the current LODA Administrator indicate that Michael Carey II, who is listed on your Transition Enrollment Form, is not eligible for the LODA Health Benefits premium-free coverage and will not be enrolled. Eligible dependent does not include…a child…born…after the time of the employee’s death or disability.”
Carey says at the very least he should be grandfathered to continue getting the benefits he says the city had promised him, and State Senator Bill DeSteph (R-8th) agrees. He’s introducing a bill that Line of Duty dependents like Carey’s son should be eligible for health insurance coverage.
“It would still be a family plan, so it would include any of his children, any of his family in the future as well. Just because he was disabled, we aren’t going to tell him he can’t have any more kids,” DeSteph said.
Carey adds this, “It is just not the right thing. The Commonwealth of Virginia needs to do the right thing, and fix this need and treat us humanely. This is inhumane treatment.”
Here’s a little math. Carey says he now has to pay $400 a month for Mikey’s individual health care policy. That is $4,800 a year in premiums for something Carey thinks should be covered by what he has known for 11 years, and was promised when he retired with disabilities.
Also coming to Carey’s aide in the General Assembly is Delegate Barry Knight (R-81st), who is working on a budget amendment to cover Carey and a few others who have fallen through the cracks of the Line of Duty Act.