Ill. House Cuts Free Health Benefits for Retirees

Thursday, 10 May 2012 03:34 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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The Illinois state House has approved a measure that would deny free healthcare benefits to retired state employees in an effort to save more than $800 million per year.

The bill would affect coverage for retirees who have worked at least 20 years for the state, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, as well as lawmakers who have served at least four years and judges with at least six years service.

“This represents an honest, long overdue assessment on the issue of no-retiree cost,” said Republican House Minority Leader Tom Cross. “It is no longer something we can give people for free.”

Opponents of the measure complained that retirees never had a chance to weigh in on the issue.

“It is not fun being a state legislator today because we are looking at reducing or stopping [free healthcare benefits] to people who have put in 20 or 30 years of the time and yet they haven’t had a voice, or at least been presented with options,” said Democratic state Rep. Kenneth Dunkin.

The state Senate passed the bill in April, but the House bill, which was amended, will be returned to the Senate for final approval.

“This will put the state of Illinois on a path for fiscal solvency and fiscal responsibility which is very much needed,” said Democratic Speaker of the House Michael Madigan.

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