Saturday, May 12, 2012
Quinn Says He'll Sign Retiree Healthcare Cut
Gov. Pat Quinn said he plans to sign legislation that would make many state retirees pay more for their health care. Quinn said in a written statement that he would sign the bill requiring retired state workers to assume some of the premiums for their healthcare but he did not say when. If he signs it soon, the measure would go into effect July 1.
“I am encouraged that legislators have taken this step towards restoring fiscal stability to Illinois," said Quinn's statement. "This legislation will help ensure that our retirees continue to have access to quality health care, while also lowering the cost to taxpayers.”
Currently, most retired state workers do not pay premiums for their health care, and supporters of the measure passed this week by both houses say it is a benefit that the state can no longer afford. “If we don’t act now, current retires and those who will be retiring in the future will be unquestionably faced with higher health payments and a severe reduction of benefits,” said Sen. Jeffrey Schoenberg, an Evanston Democrat.
Under the new bill the Department of Central Management Systems would instead set the amount that the state proposes to pay, and the rest of the cost would be made up by retirees through premiums. The state is expected to pay more than $800 million for the benefits this fiscal year. Quinn said the premiums would be means tested and determined by a number of factors, including how much each retiree receives in pension benefits and how long he or she worked for the state. Once retirees become eligible for Medicare, their premiums would decrease.
But union officials say the plan impedes the collective bargaining process and allows CMS to arbitrarily set the amount the state would pay. John Cameron, director of political and community relations for AFSCME argued that while working, retirees gave up other things through collective bargaining, such as raises, as a trade off for their paid health care. “The health insurance is a benefit that was earned. It’s not a perk, it’s not a privilege, it's not a giveaway,” he said.
You can read Jamey's full report at: http://illinoisissuesblog.blogspot.com/2012/05/quinn-says-hell-sign-cut-to-state.html