About RISE Delaware™

Q: What is RISE Delaware™?

RISE Delaware is a nonstock corporation formed to act as a sentinel on issues impacting healthcare benefits provided for State of Delaware employees in retirement. Its name is an acronym for Retirees Investing in Social Equity. Its mission is carried out through education, policy work, and advocacy.

Q: Why was RISE Delaware™ formed?

Elisa Diller, in 2006 when contemplating her next steps in life, focused on the great healthcare benefits she was entitled to receive in retirement because of her employment with the State of Delaware. She thought even then that an organization she would call RISE could be helpful to protect retirees' benefits.

In 2022, when the state secretly and underhandedly tried to take away retirees' great Medicare supplement benefit, Elisa decided to sprint into action and actually form RISE Delaware to protect that benefit, including to sue the State of Delaware. Elisa continues on as President of the organization.

Q: What is the governance structure of RISE Delaware™?

As with every Delaware corporation, there is a board of directors and various officers.

The original board of directors consisted of Elisa Diller, and John Kowalko Jr. who resigned from RISE Delaware in every capacity on December 4, 2023. The current board members are: Elisa Diller (New Castle County council member ret.); Sen. Karen Peterson (ret.); Mary Graham Esq.; and Reverend Robert Hall.

As to officers: Ms. Diller is President; Ms. Peterson and Ms. Graham are Vice Presidents; and Mr. Hall is Treasurer (replacing John Kowalko’s wife, Connie Merlet, who resigned as Treasurer on December 4, 2023). In their functional capacities, Ms. Graham remains the Legal Liaison and Ms. Peterson remains the Legislative Liaison.”

Q: What are our goals?

RISE Delaware seeks to ensure all State of Delaware Retirees have the retirement healthcare benefit they were promised of a Medicare Supplement Plan supplemental to original Medicare.

Q: What has RISE Delaware™ accomplished to date?
  • Brought a lawsuit to stop the State from switching State Retirees to a Medicare Advantage plan based on the State’s failure to follow open government and meeting laws.
  • Successfully obtained a Stay Order in October 2022 stopping that switch, which remains in place seventeen months later. The continuation of that Order has meant that: the State had to terminate the Medicare Advantage contract it entered into with Highmark in September 2022; the State for the upcoming contract cycle has to give Retirees their Medicare Supplement Plan; and the State cannot switch Retirees to Medicare Advantage, at least through 2026. We are working to make that successful result be permanent through legislation
  • Generated thousands of emails, letters to legislators and other officials urging them to keep retiree's Medicfill supplement and stop the move to Medicare Advantage plans.
  • Written and published numerous articles and opinion pieces in local media explaining what is at stake.
  • RISE supporters have offered hundreds of hours of committee and legislative testimony in support of a legislative solution to codify Retirees’ right to a Medicare Supplement plan. These efforts have resulted in important recommendations from a legislatively created committee (the RHBAS) for new legislation. Legislation consistent with those recommendations, that we are actively supporting, is making its way through the General Assembly to guarantee a Medicare Supplement plan for current and future Retirees.
  • Received national and local publicity and commendations for our fight.

Q: Why does RISE Delaware™ disagree with the State's plan to change pension healthcare options?

The State says their Medicare Advantage Plan is special and better than all the rest. But these plans do not spell "special" to us because:

  • We currently have Medicare Parts A and B. All Medicare Advantage plans are Part C, including the proposed state plan. Although it is true that Part C plans can be modified by employers, they are still Part C plans that privatize our healthcare.
  • These plans allow insurance companies to dictate what health services we receive or don't receive. They take our choice away and give it to the insurance company handling the plan.
  • A Medicare Advantage plan is not as good as our current coverage because there is a frequent need for prior authorizations. With our current Medicfill plan we do not have to be confused by in-network vs out-of-network providers, or needing to understanding copay, coinsurance, and deductibles.
  • Healthcare decisions would no longer be between the retiree and their doctor.
  • Right now we can go to the emergency room if we think it is an emergency. Under the Highmark Medicare Advantage plan, the insurance company could decide it is not an emergency so those medical costs would not be covered.
  • The proposed Medicare Advantage plan would mean Highmark, instead of our doctor, would take over our Medicare benefits and make medical decisions for us.
RISE Delaware™

Retirees Investing in Social Equity Delaware

RISEDelaware logo

RISE Delaware

P.O. Box 7262

Newark, DE 19714