SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— San Francisco Supervisors have started the discussion about how to pay for ballooning health care costs for retired city workers. The City’s liability is on track to grow to $4.4 billion over the next 30 years.

Supervisor Scott Wiener said it’s a good wake up call and Supervisor Mark Farrell is equally taking notice. The Supervisors’ Budget Committee is beginning to look at how to solve the problem.

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Last November the City Controller issued a report that spells out the extent of San Francisco’s health care liability for retired workers. It would grow from about $150 million a year to $500 million a year if changes aren’t made in the way those health costs are funded.

Some of the solutions being discussed are; slowing the growth of medical costs, reducing benefits or asking retired workers to pick up some new costs of their health care.

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While it’s not as urgent as the city’s recent pension crisis, Supervisor Farrell told the board’s budget committee it can’t be left on the shelf.

“It’s going to come due at some point in time and from my perspective I believe we would be irresponsible if we don’t attempt to fix it,” he said.

The health fund has no reserve to speak of and health costs are paid on an as-you-go basis. Supervisor Wiener welcomes the heads up.

“I’m optimistic because there is a path forward. This is an absolutely solvable challenge.”

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