More than 600 people filled the Etherredge Center on Tuesday to discuss the ongoing concerns of Savannah River Site retirees.

At the annual meeting of the SRS Retirees Association, health care questions and concerns dominated the day.

As of Jan. 1, retirees and their spouses were shifted from the same plan as current employees to a site-stipend alternative that required enrolling in a third-party insurance plan.

Outside of the meeting itself, there was time for retirees to interact with representatives from SRS management and operation’s contractor Savannah River Nuclear Solutions – which administers health care for retirees and My Medicare Advocates and Wage Works.

Retiree Moses Mims said he “heard what he expected to hear” at the meeting, meaning he heard many questions and uncertainties about the health care change. He came to speak with Wage Works representatives about recurring reimbursement issues.

Donald Slough, a retired engineer, spoke ill of SRNS for “ditching” the retirees and said that the new reimbursement process was “impossibly difficult” to fully utilize.

Retirees Association President John Pladonic told his members that there was no easy answer, but he thought a healthy dialogue was important.

“I’ll tell you, I don’t have a solution ... but we are pushing for ways to help your health care dollars go further,” Pladonic said. “This is not my association, this is our association.”

The annual meeting is usually well-attended by the Congressional delegation; however, as that body is in session, representatives of the elected officials were present instead.

Pladonic described the influence of the Central Savannah River Area as “middlin’” and lagged behind those of Washington state, where the Hanford Site is located, as well as other areas.

He added that the organization is reaching out to other sites so they can cooperate and compare ideas.