* We still don’t know how much this proposal would save, but it’s now a law…
Gov. Pat Quinn has signed a law that ends free health care for state retirees and requires them all to contribute to the cost of health care, based on their ability to pay. […]
Currently, retired lawmakers get free health insurance after four years of service and retired judges after six years. Additionally, retired state and university employees get free health insurance after 20 years of service.
Beginning July 1, all state retirees would pay a premium based on their years working for the state and ability to pay. The law doesn’t include teachers.
State Sen. Dan Kotowski claimed via press release last month that the proposal would save “about $200 million every year.” But that’s pretty much the only cost savings estimate out there, mainly because, as Kotowski noted in his May 10th press release, “it’s unclear how much retirees will specifically have to pay towards their insurance premiums.”
* According to the time stamp on the e-mail I received, Quinn’s office made the announcement of the bill signing at 5:08 this morning. Quinn portrayed the action as a way to “preserve health care benefits for state retirees.” From his press release…
Governor Pat Quinn today signed a bill into law to help ensure that state of Illinois retirees will continue to receive access to quality health care, while also lowering the cost to taxpayers. Illinois currently offers free health insurance to retirees after 20 years or more of service, at a time when no other state offers a healthcare benefit of this size. […]
The purpose of the new law is to increase fiscal responsibility by requiring all state retirees to help with the cost of health care based on their ability to pay. Currently, retired legislators receive free health insurance after four years, retired judges after six years, and retired state and university employees after 20 years of service. The result is that approximately 90 percent of retirees are not contributing anything for the cost of their health insurance. The annual cost to taxpayers is nearly $800 million. This law ensures the state will be able to continue offering quality healthcare coverage for retired employees, while making healthcare benefits more affordable for taxpayers.
Many Midwestern states, including Iowa and Minnesota, do not provide any subsidy for retired employees. Instead, they provide access to their plans and leave the entire cost to be paid by the retiree. Other states offer a very limited subsidy. For example, Florida offers retirees a monthly subsidy of $150, while the retiree covers the remaining cost. While some states utilize a formula similar to Illinois’, where the amount of the subsidy is based upon years of service, no comparable state offers free health insurance after 20 years. This law allows Illinois to continue offering affordable health insurance that is based on a retiree’s ability to pay and length of state service.
While the bill goes into effect July 1, final decisions on rates will be made following labor negotiations and approval by the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules.
By the way, the health insurance that retirees get is not “free.” They still have to make their co-pays and satisfy their deductibles. What Quinn is referring to here is the monthly premium.
*** UPDATE *** From AFSCME…
Statement of Virginia Yates, president of AFSCME Retirees Chapter 31:
“This bill jeopardizes affordable health care for state and university retirees. The governor saying his action ‘preserves health benefits’ is political doubletalk, and his claim that our health coverage is ‘free’ is false. In fact, seniors like me and 114,000 other retirees and dependents already pay $3,000 a year or more in co-pays, deductibles and premiums. 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.”
About Virginia Yates
Virginia Yates worked for 27 years at the Murray Developmental Center. A Korean War veteran, she lives in Centralia.