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Officer Down

Thursday, June 21, 2012

PENSION: (Illinois) Quinn signs bill requiring retirees to pay part of health insurance

--I understand both sides of this issue. Especially since I pay full price for my health care and cannot afford to put my family on the policy.
For those like me that only receive a 50% disability pension, we pay federal taxes and full health care. 
As an example, my monthly disability is around $2900.00. If I want family coverage it would cost me $1500.00. That leaves 1400.00 minus taxes, so let's say $1250.00 a month.
I had to choose coverage only for me and that cost is around $433.00 a month.
You can see how the costs are out of control for employees.
On the flip-side, the problem is simple. The state keeps handing out tax breaks and subsidies that cut into the states income and they have less money to spend. 
They should definitely stop the breaks to the insurance companies until they reciprocate on the savings a little.
They also allow care givers to charge them more for Medicaid patients. This also takes away from state income.
I think if employers handled their income better they could help make things a little easier on themselves and on current and former employees.--

Story at Chicago Tribune

By Ray Long
Tribune reporter
12:42 PM CDT, June 21, 2012

Gov. Pat Quinn today approved legislation requiring thousands of retired state employees to chip in on the costs of health care insurance that many of them get for little or nothing.

The law attempts to rein in the state’s rising costs but also seeks to share the expense with the 78,000 retirees who pay no premiums for their insurance now.

The Quinn administration will set premiums each year for the group health program, which includes retired judges, lawmakers, university employees and rank-and-file state workers.

Currently, retired legislators get free premium health insurance after four years, retired judges after six years and retired state and university employees after 20 years of service — one of the most generous plans in the country.

The annual cost to taxpayers is nearly $800 million and threatens to hit $1 billion in the new budget year that begins next month if left unchecked, according to legislative supporters.

How much each retiree will pay will be determined in part by how much they receive in pension. The pension payments will be broken into seven tiers. The higher the tier, the more the retiree would pay.

The law takes effect July 1, but final decisions on rates will be made following labor negotiations and approval by the a legislative oversight panel, Quinn’s office said.

In a statement, Quinn said retirees deserve access to quality health care. He said insurance costs should be more balanced and based on actual retirement income. “We also have a duty to taxpayers to ensure these plans are cost-efficient and put Illinois on the path to fiscal stability,” Quinn said.

The governor’s action immediately was criticized by the president of the retirees chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Virginia Yates of Centralia, who worked 27 years at the Murray Developmental Center, said Quinn’s comments represent “political doubletalk.”

“Seniors like me and 114,000 other retirees and dependents already pay $3,000 a year or more in co-pays, deductibles and premiums,” she said in a statement. “By cutting retiree health care at the same time he’s handing out hundreds of millions in tax giveaways to big corporations, Governor Quinn shows his priorities are out of touch.”

Sen. Jeff Schoenberg, the Evanston Democrat who first pressed the issue a year ago, said the move is “absolutely necessary to protect the quality and affordability of health insurance” for retired public workers, particularly those on fixed incomes with no other coverage.

Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, R-Lemont, said the move is a “step Illinois must take to right the financial ship” because the plan in place now is “unsustainable and taxpayers are on the hook for programs they cannot afford.”